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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Video Message to the Church in the Americas, to mark the Jubilee of the Americas, organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Latin America (CELAM) and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Scheduled to take place in Bogota, Colombia, from the 27th to the 30th of August, the theme of the continental Jubilee celebration is taken from Pope Francis’ homily at Mass on May 2nd, 2015, at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he had gone to visit as part of preparations for the canonization of St. Junipero Serra: “May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!”
Click below to hear our report
For the full text of Pope Francis' Mesage, click here
Along with the bishops, priests, religious men and women, and laity of the 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries, delegates from Canada and the United States and representatives of the Holy See are taking part in the Jubilee celebration, which seeks to turn the “Spirit of mercy” that animates this Jubilee Year into genuine and concrete help especially for all those who, in the words of Pope Francis, live on the “existential peripheries” of life.
In his Message, Pope Francis says, “All of us are aware, all of us know that we live in a society that is hurting: no one doubts this. We live in a society that is bleeding, and the price of its wounds normally ends up being paid by the most vulnerable. But it is precisely to this society, to this culture, that the Lord sends us. He sends us and urges us to bring the balm of His presence.”
The schedule of events over the three-day celebration includes a penitential liturgy including time for personal confessions, a reflection on the legacy of holiness found in the American saints, a full day dedicated to Works of Mercy on the American continent, and a public conversation on mercy as the soul of a culture of encounter.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, expressed his ‘hopes and expectations for new developments and a new season in relations between the Apostolic See and China’ in a speech on Saturday at the diocesan seminary in Pordenone, Italy.
The speech – laden with the history of diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See – focused on the figure of Cardinal Celso Costantini as a bridge builder.
Born in Castions di Zoppola in 1876 and an honorary citizen of Pordenone and Aquileia, Cardinal Costantini was named the first Apostolic Delegate to China in 1922 until 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
Cardinal Parolin said “Celso Costantini successfully completed a mission of extraordinary importance: he created a ‘bridge’ between Holy See and China, to which Pope Francis pays the utmost attention and, I am sure, also the people and government of China”.
A diary written by Cardinal Celso Costantini, entitled The Secrets of a Vatican Cardinal: Celso Costantini's Wartime Diaries, 1938-1947, was kept secret before being published in 2010 and tells some of the story of his assignment in China.
Below is a Vatican Radio English translation of the conclusion portion of Cardinal Parolin’s speech:
In light of these brief reflections on the events surrounding Cardinal Celso Costantini in relation to the vast ‘continent’ that is China, one becomes aware of his singular capacity to ‘build bridges’, that is, his capacities of knowledge, of respect, of encounter, and of dialogue between worlds, very distant, at least in appearance.
Today, as ever, many are the hopes and expectations for new developments and a new season of relations between the Apostolic See and China for the benefit not only of Catholics in the land of Confucius but for the entire country, which boasts of one of the greatest civilizations on Earth. I would dare to say [these relations] would be beneficial even for an ordered, peaceful, and fruitful cohabitation of peoples and nations in a world, like our own, torn by many tensions and conflicts. I consider it important to forcefully underline this idea: New hopes and good relations with China – including diplomatic ties, if God so wishes! – are neither an end in themselves nor a desire to reach some kind of ‘worldly’ success. They are thought out and pursued – not without fear and trembling because it involves the Church which belongs to God – I repeat, they are pursued only in the measure in which they are ‘ordered’ toward the good of Chinese Catholics, to the good of the entire Chinese people, and to the harmony of the whole society, in favor of world peace.
Pope Francis, as his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XIV before him, knows well the baggage of suffering, of misunderstandings, often of silent martyrdom which the Catholic community in China carries on its shoulders: it is the weight of history! But he also knows, along with external and internal difficulties, how alive is the yearning for full communion with the Successor of Peter, how many advances have been made, how many efforts are made to witness to the love of God and the love of neighbor, especially to the people weakest and most in need, which is the synthesis of all Christianity. [Pope Francis] also knows and encourages, especially in this Jubilee of Mercy, mutual forgiveness, reconciliation between brothers and sisters who have been divided, and the struggle to grow in understanding, collaboration, and love!
We are all called to accompany with caring closeness, respect, humility, and above all prayer this path of the Church in China. It involves writing a new page of history, looking ahead with trust in Divine Providence and healthy realism to insure a future in which Chinese Catholics can feel profoundly Catholic – ever more visibly anchored on the solid rock, which, by the will of Jesus, is Peter – and fully Chinese, without having to deny or diminish all that is true, noble, pure, lovable, honorable (cf. Phil 4,8) of that which their history and their culture has produced and continues to produce. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that nothing is truly human if it does not find an echo in the heart of the disciples of Christ! (cf. GS n.1).
It should be realistically accepted that there is no shortage of problems to be resolved between the Holy See and China and that they can generate, often by their complexity, differing positions and orientations. However, such problems are not completely unlike those positively dealt with 70 years ago. Cardinal Celso Costantini, therefore, remains a source of inspiration and a model of extreme actuality. In this sense, I thank you also because this conference, prepared for you, gave me the occasion to better study the figure and work [of Cardinal Costantini], just as others in this diocese have done and are doing.
On the path which remains to be walked, we commend ourselves with immense trust to Our Lady, invoked under the title “Help of Christians, Auxilium christianorum”. Cardinal Costantini in 1924 crowned her image in Sheshan, near Shanghai.
On 22 May 2016, in light of the liturgical feast of Our Lady venerated in Sheshan, Pope Francis yearned for, in the current Year of Mercy, “an authentic culture of encounter and harmony of all of society, that harmony which the Chinese spirit loves so much” . This spirit finds full consonance in the Bishops of Rome who have always demonstrated maximum consideration, enormous commitment, and unbounded love for the Chinese people.
 All’Angelus il Papa ricorda che ogni uomo è un essere in relazione. Orizzonte trinitario. E invita a pregare per il vertice di Istanbul e per la Cina, in L’Osservatore Romano, 23-24 maggio 2016, 7.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the bishop of the northern Italian city of Ventimiglia, where scores of migrants and refugees have congregated in the hopes of crossing the nearby border into France.
Listen to Ann Schneible's report:
The Pope’s message, which was published on the diocesan website, comes in response to a letter from Bishop Antonio Suetta of Ventimiglia – San Remo, which recounted the situation on the ground.
In the Holy Father’s letter, which was signed 17 August, he expressed his spiritual closeness with “affection and prayer” to the bishop, the entire diocese, and all those who “strive to meet the needs of these people who are escaping war and violence, in search of hope and a peaceful future.”
“I wish so much to thank you for the efforts which this diocesan community is deploying with admirable evangelical charity, establishing human, logistical, and economic resources to support these, our brothers and sisters, who are living an immense tragedy.”
Pope Francis encouraged the bishop, along with the priests, consecrated persons, pastoral workers, and other Church entities to continue with their “generous commitment to welcome and solidarity,” thereby becoming “ever more a ‘Church in exit,’ the joyful herald of the Gospel of mercy and a witness to hope.”
The Pope concluded his message by reiterating his “sincere appreciation” for the fervor of the diocesan community, and assuring them of his prayers, while bestowing on them his apostolic blessing.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged members of Secular Institutes to work for a renewed charism that unites the lay and consecrated aspects of their lives and mission. His remarks came in a message sent on his behalf by the Secretary, of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to participants attending the World Conference of members of Secular Institutes held in Rome this week.
The Pope wrote that they are both lay and consecrated people and both aspects are on the same level and equally important. He encouraged the members of the Secular Institutes to live an intense life of prayer, saying their greatest challenge is to be schools of sainthood here on earth, living normal lives but always at the service of others and bearing witness to the values of brotherhood and friendship.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) With the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) drawing near, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, shared his memories of her and in one anecdote described how she was able to exert her moral influence over the then Reagan Administration. Ambassador Hackett knew and worked closely with Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity Order while he served as president of Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See has launched an online exhibit documenting the strong ties Mother Teresa had with the United States. He was interviewed by Susy Hodges.
Describing himself as “ecstatic” over Mother Teresa’s canonization, Ambassador Hackett said he felt it was definitely overdue or as he put it, “a long time in coming.” He paid tribute to Mother and the Missionaries of Charity Order she founded, saying she extended “mercy, kindness, concern and compassion to those who have absolutely fallen through society’s cracks” such as people on the streets who are dying or children who have been abandoned. Hackett had earlier described her as a “field hospital” saint, taking the metaphor used one day by Pope Francis at his morning Mass to describe the action of the Church in reaching out to those who are in need.
“A great sense of humour”
Turning to her personality, Hackett disclosed that she had “a great sense of humour” and was adept at “tweaking” people by pricking their consciences when it came to their responsibilities to help the poor and needy. When she did that to him, the ambassador described his reaction:
“You felt like you had got a thunderbolt right through you!”
Asked to share any special memories or anecdotes about Mother Teresa, Hackett stressed that she “knew how to move the agenda” not just with people like him but also with Presidents and the powerful. As an example, he described one incident where in his earlier post as head of Catholic Relief Services he was in a meeting with leading members of the U.S. Agency for International Development during the time of the “big famine” in Ethiopia during the 1980’s.
Mother Teresa’s letter to President Reagan
He said they were having an “argument” at that meeting about U.S. government plans to cut food donations to the Ethiopian government when somebody brought in a note from (the then) Secretary of State George Schultz saying that "the President wants an answer in half an hour to Mother Teresa’s letter asking President Reagan why he is cutting food to the needy in Ethiopia.” Describing Mother Teresa as “bold”, Hackett said as a result of that intervention, food supplies were NOT cut to Ethiopia and this was an example of her strong moral influence, even when it came to world leaders.
Hackett spoke about the online exhibit which the U.S. embassy to the Holy See launched on August 26th and which documents the strong ties Blessed Teresa had with the United States. He said the exhibit includes many photos and a four-minute video showing Mother Teresa during some of her frequent visits to the U.S. and explained how Americans, regardless of their faith, always held Mother Teresa in high regard. Hackett said this was very apparent because during her U.S. visits, Catholic Relief Services received “thousands” of requests from people wishing to volunteer their services.(from Vatican Radio)
«Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace». Message for the 50th World Day of Peace, the fourth of Pope Francis.
«Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace». This is the title of the Message for the 50th World Day of Peace (1st january 2017), the fourth of Pope Francis. Violence and Peace are at the origin of two opposite ways to building society.
The proliferation of hotbeds of violence produces most serious negative social consequences. The Holy Father sums up this situation in the expression: “A Third World War in Pieces”. Peace, by contrast, promotes social positive consequences and it allows the achievement of real progress. Therefore, we should act within what is possible, and negotiate ways of peace even where they seem tortuous and impractical. Thus, non-violence can acquire a more comprehensive and new meaning. It will not only consist of desire, of moral rejection of violence, barriers, destructive impulses, but also of a realistic political method that gives rise to hope.
Such a political method is based on the primacy of law. If the rights and the equal dignity of every person are safeguarded without any discrimination and distinction, then non-violence, understood as a political method, can constitute a realistic way to overcome arm conflicts. In this perspective, it becomes important to increasingly recognize not the right of force but the force of right.
With this Message, Pope Francis wants to show a further step, a path of hope, appropriate to today’s historical circumstances. In this way, the settlement of disputes may be reached through negotiation without then degenerating into armed conflict. Within such a perspective the culture and identity of Peoples are respected and the opinion that some are morally superior to others is overcome.
At the same time, however, it does not mean that one Nation can remain indifferent to the tragedies of another. Rather it means a recognition of the primacy of diplomacy over the noise of arms.
Arms trade is so widespread that it is generally underestimated. Illegal arms trafficking supports not a few world’s conflicts. Non-violence as a political style can and must do much to stem this scourge.
TheWorld Peace Day initiated by Paul VI is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The Holy Father's Message is sent to all Foreign Ministries of the world and it indicates the diplomatic concerns of the Holy See during the coming year.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday made a special greeting during his General Audience to the members of the International Paralympic Committee and the athletes who are preparing to participate in the next Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which will take place from 7-18 September.
The Holy Father blessed the Paralympic Flag when he was in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day in 2013, taking the opportunity to speak about the bonds between evangelisation and the world of sport.
The Vatican is participating in the "Casa Italia Paralimpica in Rio 2016,” which is a meeting place for the Italian delegation at the Paralympic Games.
The Casa Italia is a long-term project – which will involve the collaboration of the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro – to offer practical support to a series of project initiatives, especially involving parasport activities.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) In the wake of the powerful earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday, Pope Francis at the General Audience postponed his prepared catechesis, and led the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square in the recitation of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.
The Holy Father expressed his “heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness” to all those affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks. He said he was deeply saddened upon learning several children were among the dead, and of hearing of the total destruction of the town of Amatrice.
“I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church, who in these moments extends her merciful love, as well as the concern of all of us here in the Piazza," Pope Francis said.
He asked everyone to join him in prayer to Jesus, that the Lord might “console the broken-hearted, and, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.”
“With Jesus,” Pope Francis concluded, “let our hearts be moved with compassion.”
Below, please find the full text of the Pope’s remarks at the General Audience on Wednesday:
“I had prepared the catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this year of mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However on hearing of the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy, and which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted.
“I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.
“For this reason, I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church, who in these moments extends her merciful love, as well as the concern of all of us here in the Piazza.
“And thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, Who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that He may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.
“With Jesus let our hearts be moved with compassion.
“So we will postpone, then, this week’s catechesis until next Wednesday, and I invite you to pray with me a part of the holy Rosary, the sorrowful mysteries.”(from Vatican Radio)