From the Vatican

Pope Francis: Gospel Must Be Proclaimed with Humility

Pope 0425172017-04-25 (Vatican Radio) The Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. That was the exhortation of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of St Mark the Evangelist. Among those taking part in the Mass were the Cardinal counsellors of the C-9.

The Holy Father spoke about the necessity for Christians of “going out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place.

Jesus gave His disciples a mission: to proclaim the Gospel, “to not remain in Jerusalem, but to go out to proclaim the Good News to all. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.”

Going out to proclaim the Good News, never remaining stopped but always on the journey

Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel”:

“To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe. So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering: we think of the proclamation of the Gospel that leads to so many wounded people – so many wounded people! – who offer their sufferings for the Church, for the Christians. But they always go out of themselves.”

But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked. “Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style”: “The Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.” This, the Pope said, “is the style of God”; there is no other. “The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.” This is “not the proclamation of the Gospel.”

The Gospel must be announced with humility, overcoming the temptation of worldliness

The Gospel, the Pope said, “cannot be announced with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.” “This is not the Gospel.” All of us, then, are called to vest themselves with “humility, one towards another,” because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”

“And why is this humility necessary? Precisely because we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen. And for this reason St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation."

Pope Francis said that if a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.”

Let us ask the Lord that we might go out of ourselves in order to evangelize

For this reason, the Pope continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” He said that when we are suffering, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles”:

“The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, a scandal and a folly, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility. May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in Him, announcing the true Gospel: ‘The Word is come in the flesh.’ The Word of God is come in the flesh. And this is a folly, it is a scandal; but doing it with the understanding that the Lord is at our side, He works with us, and He confirms our work.”

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Regina Caeli: With Mercy Violence and Rancor Have No Sense

Pope 0423172017-04-23 (Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address in a sunny St Peter’s Square, Pope France recalled the Church tradition of calling the first Sunday after Easter “in albis”, an expression he said, meant to recall the rite of those who had received baptism in white on the Easter Vigil. The Pope went on to say that in the Jubilee of Year of 2000, St. John Paul II established that this particular Sunday was to be dedicated to Divine Mercy.

In the last months, the Holy Father said, “we have concluded the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and this Sunday invites us to resume the grace that comes from the mercy of God.”

Drawing inspiration from the  Gospel reading of the day, the Holy Father  reminded those present of Jesus’ words, "receive the Holy Spirit. Those to whom you will forgive sins will be forgiven ".

Here is the sense of the mercy, the forgiving of sins, noted Pope Francis, “that occurs on the day of the resurrection of Jesus.”

The Risen Jesus, he continued  has sent to his Church, as a first task, his own mission to bring to everyone the concrete announcement of forgiveness.

This visible sign of his mercy brings with him the peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.

Mercy said the Pope, makes us realize that violence, rancor, and revenge have no sense.

Mercy also opens the door of the heart and allows us to express our closeness, above all to those who are alone and marginalized.

Mercy, in short, said Pope Francis is everyone committed to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace. Let us never forget that mercy, he concluded, is the keystone in the life of faith, and the concrete form in which we give visibility to the resurrection of Jesus.

Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father remembered the Beatification in Oviedo, Spain on Saturday of Father Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières an educator who lived in the nineteenth century, and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel.

The Pope also greeted Polish pilgrims on the Feast of Divine Mercy and thanked Caritas Poland for their support of so many families in Syria.

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Pope Francis Tweet for Friday 4/21/17

Twitter Bird

 

When we have reached the lowest point of our misery and our weakness, the Risen Christ gives us the strength to rise again.

Follow Pope Francis on Twitter here

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Pope: Encountering Christ in Faith is Surprising

Pope 0419172017-04-19 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, continuing his catechesis on Christian hope.

Reflecting on 1Cor 15, the Holy Father said the Risen Christ is the hope of Christians, since his resurrection is the event that grounds our faith.

This is the official English summary of the Pope's catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In these joyful days of Easter, our continuing catechesis on Christian hope looks to the Risen Jesus.  Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus himself is our hope.  His resurrection is the event that grounds our faith; without our confident belief in its historical reality, the Christian faith would be a mere human philosophy, and Jesus himself simply another great religious figure.  Our belief is based on the testimony of those who encountered the Risen Christ, from Saint Peter and the group of the Twelve to Saint Paul, who was converted by his dramatic meeting with the Lord on the road to Damascus.  Encountering Christ in faith is always a surprise; it is a grace given to those whose hearts are open.  It overturns our comfortable existence and opens us to an unexpected future, sowing life and light in place of death and sorrow.  This is the reason for our Easter joy: in the risen Jesus, who dwells in our midst, we encounter the power of God’s love, which triumphs over death and brings ever new life and undying hope.

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Pope Delivers His Urbi et Orbi Message

Pope 0416172017-04-16 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Easter Sunday gave his tradition Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica. In it he prayed that Risen Lord would walk beside those who are marginalized who are victimized by old and new forms of slavery. The Holy Father also prayed the Lord would bring peace to the Middle East, come to the aid of Ukraine, shed his blessing upon the continent of Europe and  build bridges of dialogue in Latin America.

This is the English language translation of the Pope's Urbi et Orbi message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Today, throughout the world, the Church echoes once more the astonishing message of the first disciples: “Jesus is risen!” – “He is truly risen, as he said!”

The ancient feast of Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery, here finds fulfilment.  By his resurrection, Jesus Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin and death, and has opened before us the way to eternal life.

All of us, when we let ourselves be mastered by sin, lose the right way and end up straying like lost sheep.  But God himself, our shepherd, has come in search of us.  To save us, he lowered himself even to accepting death on the cross. Today we can proclaim: “The Good Shepherd has risen, who laid down his life for his sheep, and willingly died for his flock, alleluia” (Roman Missal, IV Sunday of Easter, Communion antiphon).

In every age, the Risen Shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world.  With the marks of the passion – the wounds of his merciful love – he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life.  Today too, he places upon his shoulders so many of our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms.

The Risen Shepherd goes in search of all those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalization.  He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness, and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.

He takes upon himself all those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labor, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction.  He takes upon himself children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home.

The Risen Shepherd walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.  Everywhere he helps these forced migrants to encounter brothers and sisters, with whom they can share bread and hope on their journey.

the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace.  May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.

Especially in these days, may he sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria, prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death.  May he grant peace to the entire Middle East, beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen.

May the Good Shepherd remain close to the people of South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who endure continuing hostilities, aggravated by the grave famine affecting certain parts of Africa.

May the Risen Jesus sustain the efforts of all those who, especially in Latin America, are committed to ensuring the common good of societies marked at times by political and social tensions that in some cases have resulted in violence.  May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law.

May the Good Shepherd come to the aid of Ukraine, still beset by conflict and bloodshed, to regain social harmony.  May he accompany every effort to alleviate the tragic sufferings of those affected by the conflict.

The Risen Lord continues to shed his blessing upon the continent of Europe.  May he grant hope to those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year Christians of every confession celebrate Easter together.  With one voice, in every part of the world, we proclaim the great message:  “The Lord is truly risen, as he said!”  May Jesus, who vanquished the darkness of sin and death, grant peace to our days.

Happy Easter!

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Preacher of Papal Household: Christ's Cross is World's Hope

Pope 0415172017-04-14 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over the Passion Liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday.

In keeping with tradition, the Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM. Cap., preached the sermon on the occasion.

This year, the Preacher’s remarks focused entirely on the Cross of Christ: the only hope of the world.

“The Cross,” said Fr. Cantalamessa, “does not ‘stand’ against the world but for the world: to give meaning to all the suffering that has been, that is, and that will be in human history.”

The Preacher of the Papal Household went on to say, “It is written that at the moment of Christ’s death, ‘The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised (Matt 27:51).’”

Though these signs often receive an apocalyptic explanation, he said, “[T]hey [also] indicate what should happen in the heart of a person who reads and meditates on the Passion of Christ.”

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Pope Urges Faithful to Help and Serve Each Other

Pope 0413172017-04-13 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Holy Thursday washed the feet of inmates at Paliano prison, south of Rome, during the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper.

The Pope traveled to the penitentiary for a private visit and the celebration of Mass marking Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the day before his Crucifixion.

In his off-the-cuff homily Pope Francis invited those present, and all Christians, to serve the other.

"The disciples, the Pope said, used to argue about who was the most important amongst them".

“He who feels or thinks he is important, he continued, must become small and be a servant to the others. That is what God – who loves us as we are – does every day”.

The center hosts some 70 inmates, and amongst those whose feet the Pope washed, there are 10 Italians, 1 Argentinean and 1 Albanian. Amongst them 3 are women and 1 is a Muslim who will receive the Sacrament of Baptism in the coming month of June.

The Paliano detention center is the only such institute in Italy reserved in particular for former members of criminal gangs who collaborate with police and the judiciary.

Vocational training is part of the programs in place for the inmates at Paliano and courses include pottery, bakery, carpentry, farming and bee-keeping. That’s why the inmates gifts for Pope Francis include baskets of fresh farm produce, eggs, honey and a wooden crucifix. 

Pope Francis began the tradition of travelling to a prison for the traditional Last Supper Mass in March 2013, just a few days after the inauguration of his pontificate. On that occasion he travelled to Rome’s Casal del Marmo youth detention center where he included, for the first time, women and Muslims among the inmates whose feet he washed.

The following year, he celebrated the Last Supper Mass at Rome’s Don Gnocchi center for the disabled, again including women among those who had their feet washed in memory of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service.

In 2015 Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Rebibbia prison for the Holy Thursday celebration, while last year he washed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a center for asylum seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto, just north of Rome.

Reported by Linda Bordoni

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Holy Thursday - April 13, 2017

da Vinci Last Supper2017-04-12 Vatican Radio

The Stole and the Towel is the title of a book, which sums up the message of the Italian bishop, Tony Bello, who died of cancer at the age of 58.  On Maundy Thursday of 1993, while on his deathbed, he dictated a pastoral letter to the priests of his diocese.  He called upon them to be bound by "the stole and the towel."  The stole symbolizes union with Christ in the Eucharist, and the towel symbolizes union with humanity by service.  The priest is called upon to be united with the Lord in the Eucharist and with the people as their servant.  Today we celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood: the feast of "the stole and the towel," the feast of love and service.

Introduction: On Holy Thursday, we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners and  preach the Good News of salvation, 3) the anniversary of the promulgation of Jesus’ new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Today we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover.  In its origins, the Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations.  The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering to God of a lamb.  They called this celebration the “Pass over."  The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving.  The Passover feast of the Israelites (Exodus 12:26-37), was a harmonious combination of these two ancient feasts of thanksgiving, commanded by the Lord God and celebrated yearly by all Israelites to thank God for the miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt and final arrival in the Promised Land. 

Scripture lessons:  The first reading from Exodus, gives us an account of the origins of the Jewish feast of Passover when the Israelites celebrated God's breaking the chains of their Egyptian slavery and leading them to the land He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, establishing a covenant with them and making of them his own beloved people. God gave the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal [to be held annually in later years] and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. This tradition continued in the Church as the Lord’s Supper, with the Eucharist as its focal point. In the second reading, Paul identifies a source and purpose for the communal celebration of the Lord’s Supper beyond that was passed on to him upon his conversion, namely that   he had received this "from the Lord.” This suggests that the celebration of the Lord's Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church. Paul implies that another purpose of this celebration was to “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.”  Paul may simply mean that Christians, by this ritual act, remind themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus; he may also mean that Christians prepare themselves for the proclamation of Christ to the world at large.  Addressing abuses and misunderstandings concerning the “breaking of the bread” in the Corinthian church, Paul gives us all the warning that if we fail to embrace the spirit of love and servanthood in which the gift of the Eucharist is given to us, then “Eucharist” becomes a judgment against us. In harmony with these readings, today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration.  First, he washed His Apostles’ feet - a tender reminder of his undying affection for them. Then he commanded them to do the same for each other.  The incident reminds us that our vocation is to take care of one another as Jesus always takes care of us. Finally, he gave his apostles his own Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine as Food and Drink for their souls, so that, as long as they lived, they'd never be without the comfort and strength of his presence.   Thus, Jesus washed their feet, fed them and then went out to die. This Gospel episode challenges us to become, for others, Christ the healer, Christ the compassionate and selfless brother, Christ the humble “washer of feet.”

Exegesis: Jesus’ transformation of his last Seder meal (Last Supper) into the first Eucharistic celebration is described for us in today’s Second Reading and Gospel. (John in his account of the Last Supper, makes no mention of the establishment of the Eucharist because his theology of the Eucharist is detailed in the “bread of life” discourse following the multiplication of the loaves and fish at Passover, in chapter 6 of his Gospel.) Jesus, the Son of God, began his Passover celebration by washing the feet of his disciples (a service assigned to household servants), as a lesson in humble service, demonstrating that he “came to the world not to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). He followed the ritual of the Jewish Passover meal up to the second cup of wine.  After serving the roasted lamb as a third step, Jesus offered his own Body and Blood as food and drink under the appearances of bread and wine. Thus, he instituted the Holy Eucharist as the sign and reality of God’s perpetual presence with His people as their living, Heavenly Food.  This was followed by the institution of the priesthood with the command, “Do this in memory of me."   Jesus concluded the ceremony with a long speech incorporating his command of love:  “Love one another as I have loved you”(Jn 13:34). Thus, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at a private Passover meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30; Luke 21:7-23).  He served as both the Host and the Victim of a sacrifice.  He became the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist had previously predicted (John 1:29, 36), who would “take away the sins of the world.”

The transformation of Jesus’ Passover into the Holy Mass: The early Jewish Christians converted the Jewish “Sabbath Love Feast” of Fridays and Saturdays (the Sabbath), into the “Memorial Last Supper Meal” of Jesus on Sundays.  The celebration began with the participants praising and worshipping God by singing psalms, reading the Old Testament Messianic prophecies and listening to the teachings of Jesus as explained by an apostle or by an ordained minister.  This was followed by an offertory procession, bringing to the altar the bread and wine to be consecrated and the covered dishes (meals) brought by each family for a shared common meal after the Eucharistic celebration. Then the ordained minister said the “institution narrative” over the bread and wine and all the participants received the consecrated Bread and Wine, the living Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Jesus.  This ritual finally evolved into the present day Holy Mass in various rites, incorporating various cultural elements of worship and rituals.

Life Messages: 1) We need to render humble service to others.  Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another and revere Christ's presence in other persons.   To wash the feet of others is to love them, especially when they don't deserve our love, and to do good to them, even when they don't return the favor. It is to consider others' needs to be as important as our own. It is to forgive others from the heart, even though they don't say, "I'm sorry." It is to serve them, even when the task is unpleasant. It is to let others know we care when they feel downtrodden or burdened. It is to be generous with what we have. It is to turn the other cheek instead of retaliating when we're treated unfairly. It is to make adjustments in our plans in order to serve others' needs without expecting any reward. In doing and suffering all these things in this way, we love and serve Jesus Himself, as He has loved us and has taught us to do (Mt 25:31-ff).

2) We need to practice sacrificial sharing and self-giving love.  Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.  It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health and wealth - with others that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

3) We need to show our unity in suffering. The bread we partake of is produced by the pounding of many grains of wheat, and the wine is the result of the crushing of many grapes.  Both are thus symbols of unity through suffering.  They invite us to help, console, support, and pray for others who suffer physical or mental illnesses.

4) We need to heed the warning: We need to make Holy Communion an occasion of Divine grace and blessing by receiving it worthily, rather than making it an occasion of desecration and sacrilege by receiving Jesus while we are in grave sin.  That is why we pray three times before we receive Communion, "Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us," with the final "have mercy on us" replaced by "grant us peace." That is also the reason we pray the Centurion's prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” (Mt 8:8). And that is why the priest, just before he receives the consecrated Host, prays, "May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life," while, just before drinking from the Chalice, he prays, "May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life."

5) We need to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers:  In the older English version of the Mass, the final message was, “Go in peace to love and serve one another,” that is, to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service of Christ whom we carry with us. That message has not changed, though the words are different. (Fr. Anthony Kadavil)

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Pope:  Christian Hope Grounded in God’s Love

Pope 0412172017-04-12 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday invited Christians to contemplate the Cross and celebrate the holy days leading to Easter.

Continuing in his catechesis on Christian hope, the Pope was addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square for the weekly General Audience.

Unlike worldly hopes, which fail to bring lasting satisfaction Pope Francis told the faithful that “our Christian hope is grounded in God’s eternal love”.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words as he entered Jerusalem: “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit”.

These words, he said, can help us understand the mystery of God’s promise – think of a tiny seed that falls to the ground; if it remains closed unto itself nothing happens, if it breaks open it gives life to an ear of wheat, and then to a plant that will yield fruit.

Jesus, the Pope said, brought a new hope into the world: like the seed he became tiny and fell to the earth. His saving death and resurrection show that the self-giving love that is God’s very life can transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, apparent defeat into eternal victory.

If anyone asks me, Francis said “how is hope born? I answer from the Cross: look at the Cross, look at the Crucified Christ, that is where you will find hope that never vanishes, that lasts for eternity”.

He who chooses to live and love with humility in the way Jesus has shown, the Pope continued, and chooses the hope He has given to us, makes the winning choice. 

For he who thirsts for worldly things and strives only to satisfy his own desires, he said, will never be satiated warning that  “it’s a nasty kind of thirst, the more you have the more you want” and at the end you will lose everything.

Thus, he said, the Cross of Christ is the source of that unfailing hope which gives meaning and direction to our lives. 

And underlining the fact that love is the motor that drives our hope, he said that the Cross is not the goal; it’s a step towards the glory to which we are called.

“As we celebrate these holy days, the days of love which lead to Easter, the Pope concluded, I would like to give each of you a task: contemplate the Cross and say to the Lord: “with You nothing is lost; You are my hope”.

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Pope Calls Consistory to Approve Causes for Canonization

Blesseds of Fatima2017-04-11 (Vatican Radio) On 20 April 2017, Thursday of Easter Week, Pope Francis will hold an ordinary public Consistory for the vote of the Cardinals on several causes for canonization.

Five causes of canonization are set for approval by the Cardinals:

The Martyrs of Natal, Brazil: Andrea de Soveral, Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, diocesan priests, along with Matteo Moreira, a layman, and 27 companions, martyrs;

Cristóbal, Antonio, and Juan, of Mexico, young martyrs;

Faustino Míguez, Spanish Piarist priest, and founder of the Calasanzian Institute of the Daughters of the Divine Shepherdess;

Angelo da Acri (in the world: Luca Antonio Falcone), Italian professed priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor – Capuchin;

The visionaries of Fatima, Francesco Marto and Jacinto Marto, children.

The vote of the Cardinals is the final formality after Pope Francis gave approval for the causes to move forward. Upon receiving the approval of the Cardinals in Consistory, the Church will set dates for the canonization of the Blesseds.

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Pope Warns Against Misuse of Biotechnologies

Pope 0410172017-04-10 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged scientists and experts in biotechnologies to always be aware of the effects their decisions can have on human life and on creation.

The Pope was addressing members of the National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences at an audience in the Vatican.

The main issues addressed by the Committee’s various working groups include: genetic testing, gene therapy, tissue engineering, development of biotechnology, cloning, Italian and European legislation, clinical trials, GMOs, infrastructure, information, genetic testing, biobanks, and bio nanotechnology.

Remarking on the fact that the themes and issues that the committee faces are of great importance for contemporary man, both as individuals and in relation to the social dimension, the Pope said: “your task is not only to promote the harmonious and integrated development of scientific and technological research that relates to the biological processes of plant, animal and human life”; you are also asked to predict and prevent the negative consequences that a distorted use of science and technology can result in when “they are used to manipulate life”.

Highlighting the principle of accountability which, the Pope said, is an essential cornerstone of human action, he said that various fields of technology and science put a “huge and growing power into the hands of man”.

“A grave risk is that citizens, and at times even those who represent and govern them, are not fully aware of the seriousness of the challenges that arise, of the complexities of the problems to be solved, and are in danger of misusing the power that sciences and biotechnologies put in their  hands”.

Pope Francis said that when the connection between economic power and the power of technology is a strong one, interests can come into play; choices can be taken in light of possible profits for industrial and commercial groups to the detriment of the poorest populations and nations.

“It is not easy to reach a harmonious composition of the different scientific, productive, ethical, social, economic and political realities that promotes a sustainable development that respects our ‘common home’” he said.

It is something that requires humility, courage and openness, he said, certain that the contribution given by men of science to truth and to the common good, contribute to the development of civil conscience.

Pope Francis reminded those present that sciences and technologies are made for man and for the world and not the other way around.

“May they be put to the service of  dignified and healthy lives for all, now and in the future, and may they help render our common home more livable and supportive, more cared for and safe-guarded” he said.

The Pope concluded his address encouraging those present to initiate and sustain processes of consensus amongst scientists, technology experts, businessmen and representatives of the institutions, and to identify strategies to enhance public awareness on the issues raised by developments in Life Sciences and biotechnology.

Reported by Linda Bordoni

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Pope Francis: Palm Sunday Homily

Pope 0409172017-04-09 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square. The full text of his prepared remarks is below:

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Today’s celebration can be said to be bittersweet.  It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time.  We celebrate the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem to the cries of his disciples who acclaim him as king.  Yet we also solemnly proclaim the Gospel account of his Passion.  In this poignant contrast, our hearts experience in some small measure what Jesus himself must have felt in his own heart that day, as he rejoiced with his friends and wept over Jerusalem.

For thirty-two years now, the joyful aspect of this Sunday has been enriched by the enthusiasm of young people, thanks to the celebration of World Youth Day.  This year, it is being celebrated at the diocesan level, but here in Saint Peter’s Square it will be marked by the deeply moving and evocative moment when the WYD cross is passed from the young people of Kraków to those of Panama.

The Gospel we heard before the procession (cf. Mt 21:1-11) describes Jesus as he comes down from the Mount of Olives on the back of a colt that had never been ridden.  It recounts the enthusiasm of the disciples who acclaim the Master with cries of joy, and we can picture in our minds the excitement of the children and young people of the city who joined in the excitement.  Jesus himself sees in this joyful welcome an inexorable force willed by God.  To the scandalized Pharisees he responds: “I tell you that if these were silent, the stones would shout out” (Lk 19:40).

Yet Jesus who, in fulfilment of the Scriptures, enters the holy city in this way is no misguided purveyor of illusions, no new age prophet, no imposter.  Rather, he is clearly a Messiah who comes in the guise of a servant, the servant of God and of man, and goes to his passion.  He is the great “patient”, who suffers all the pain of humanity.

So as we joyfully acclaim our King, let us also think of the sufferings that he will have to endure in this week.  Let us think of the slanders and insults, the snares and betrayals, the abandonment to an unjust judgment, the blows, the lashes and the crown of thorns…  And lastly, the way of the cross leading to the crucifixion.

He had spoken clearly of this to his disciples: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).  Jesus never promised honor and success.  The Gospels make this clear.  He had always warned his friends that this was to be his path, and that the final victory would be achieved through the passion and the cross.  All this holds true for us too.  Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds.  Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily.

This Jesus, who accepts the hosannas of the crowd, knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry: “Crucify him!”  He does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos that circulate on the internet.  No.  He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases…  They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike.  Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded…  Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.

It is not some other Jesus, but the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amid the waving of palm branches.  It is the same Jesus who was nailed to the cross and died between two criminals.  We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.

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