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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday addressed the organizers and participants in the first-ever International Conference for the Vicars and Episcopal Delegates for Consecrated Life.
Organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life for the purpose of the conference is to respond to the call, which the Holy Father made to Pastors of particular Churches around the world when he proclaimed the Year for Consecrated Life, “[T]o show special concern for promoting within [their] communities the different charisms, whether long-standing or recent.”
In the Letter, the Holy Father went on to ask them to do this by support and encouragement, assistance in discernment, and, “tender and loving closeness to those situations of suffering and weakness in which some consecrated men or women may find themselves.”
“Above all,” Pope Francis wrote, “do this by instructing the People of God in the value of consecrated life, so that its beauty and holiness may shine forth in the Church.”
In remarks prepared for the roughly 200 people involved in the initiative and delivered in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on Friday, Pope Francis spoke of the bridge-building and relationship-strengthening roles of Vicars and Delegates – especially those serving newer communities and congregations. “Build mutual relations on the basis of an ecclesiology of communion, on the principle of co-essentiality, and on the autonomy that belongs rightfully to consecrated persons.”
The three-day formation congress is being hosted by the Pontifical University Antonianum, the flagship university of the Franciscan order in Rome, and closes Sunday.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Details of the upcoming Third World Meeting of Popular Movements taking place in Rome from 2-5 November were presented in the Vatican on Friday.
Please find below a communique in English from the Holy See’s Press Office:
This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, to be held in Rome from 2 to 5 November 2016. The speakers were Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations and delegate secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Juan Grabois, consulter to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and co-founder of the Movement of Excluded Workers of the Conference of the Popular Economy.
Following the two meetings in Rome 2014 and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia in 2015, next week around two hundred members will meet, representing 92 popular movements from 65 countries. The themes to be considered in the third meeting will again be “las tres T: Trabajo, Techo, Tierra”; (“The three Ls: Labour, Lodgings and Land”); care for nature; and migrants and refugees.
The meeting will take place at the Pontifical International Maria Mater Ecclesiae College from 2 to 4 November. Then, on 5 November, the Holy Father Francis will receive the participants in audience in the Paul VI Hall. The attendees will include Don Luigi Ciotti, founder of the Abel group which fights against abuse by the Mafia throughout Italy; Vandana Shiva, Indian philosopher and environmentalist; and Pepe Mujica, president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015.
For further information, see:
http://movimientospopulares.org/(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given an interview with the Jesuit Catholic journal La Civiltà Cattolica ahead of his ecumenical Apostolic Trip to Sweden. The interview was conducted by Father Ulf Jonsson S.J., the director of the Swedish cultural journal of the Jesuits, Signum.
Pope Francis mentioned the recent interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi, which he called “very important.”
“All of us talked of peace and we asked for peace,” – the Pope said – “ We together said strong words for peace, what the religions truly want.”
When asked about the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East, Pope Francis called the region “a land of martyrs.”
“I believe that the Lord does not leave his people on their own,” – the Holy Father said – “He will not abandon them. When we read of the hard trials of the people of Israel in the Bible or remember the trials of the martyrs, we see how the Lord always comes to the aid of his people.”
The purpose of the trip to Sweden is to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and much of the discussion in the interview covered ecumenical affairs.
Speaking about the mutual enrichment possible between Christian communities, the Pope was asked what Catholics could learn from Lutherans.
“Two words come to my mind: ‘reform’ and ‘Scripture’,” - Pope Francis said – “I will try to explain. The first is the word 'reform'. At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform in a difficult time for the Church. Luther wanted to remedy a complex situation. Then this gesture —also because of the political situations, we think also of the cuius regio eius religio (whose realm , his religion) —became a ‘state’ of separation, and not a process of reform of the whole Church, which is fundamental, because the Church is semper reformanda (always reforming).”
“The second word is ‘Scripture’, the Word of God,” – the Pope continued – “Luther took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people. Reform and Scripture are two things that we can deepen by looking at the Lutheran tradition. The General Congregations before the Conclave comes to mind and how the request for a reform was alive in our discussions.”
The Holy Father was later asked about how the Ecumenical movement can move forward. He responded by saying “theological dialogue must continue,” and pointing to the Joint Declaration on Justification as an important point, but added “it will not be easy to go forward because of the different ways of understanding some theological questions.”
“Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy -- work done together to help the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned,” – Pope Francis said – “To do something together is a high and effective form of dialogue. I also think about education. It is important to work together and not in a sectarian way. There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin."
The full text of the interview can be found on the website of La Civiltà Cattolica here.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said the cornerstone of life for Christians is Jesus who is praying for us, pointing out that Jesus always turned to prayer at all the key moments in his life. His remarks came during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his cue from the Gospel reading recounting how Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing his disciples, the Pope’s homily reflected on the fundamental importance of prayer for Christians. He said whilst Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church and there is no Church without Him, the key to this cornerstone is Jesus who is praying for us.
The cornerstone of the Church is Jesus in front of the Father who is praying for us
“‘Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer to God.’ And then the rest followed, the crowds, the choosing of his disciples, the healings, the casting out of demons… Yes, the cornerstone is Jesus but Jesus who prays. Jesus is praying. He prayed and he continues to pray for the Church. The cornerstone of the Church is our Lord in front of the Father who intercedes on our behalf, who is praying for us. We pray to Him but the key thing is that He is praying for us.”
Our security is Jesus praying for each one of us
Pope Francis went on to describe how Jesus always prayed for his followers, be it at the Last Supper or before performing a miracle such as when he prayed to the Father before raising Lazarus from the dead.
“Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, on the Cross, he ended praying: his life ended in prayer. And this is our security, this is our foundation, this is our cornerstone: Jesus who is praying for us! Jesus who is praying for me! And each of us can say this: I am certain that Jesus is praying for me; that he is in front of the Father and naming me. This is the cornerstone of the Church: Jesus in prayer.”
Another example of Jesus praying for his followers, said the Pope, came before his Passion when Jesus told Peter he had been praying for him to withstand Satan’s temptation and for his faith to hold firm.
“And what Jesus tells Peter, he tells you and you and me, everybody: ‘I have prayed for you, I am praying for you, I am now praying for you’ and when He comes onto the altar, He comes to intercede, to pray for us. As he did on the Cross. And this gives us a great sense of security. I belong to this community that’s solid because Jesus is its cornerstone, Jesus who is praying for me, who is praying for us. Today we’d do well to reflect on the Church, reflect on this mystery of the Church. We are all like a building but its foundation is Jesus, Jesus who is praying for us, Jesus who is praying for me.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Thursday with participants at an international conference on combatting human trafficking. The Santa Marta Group, which organised the two day conference, was established in 2014 to pledge closer cooperation on anti-trafficking initiatives between the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies worldwide.
At a concluding press conference Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, one of the founding members of the group, and two survivors of human trafficking spoke of the progress that has been made over the past couple of years.
In his words to the group of bishops and religious, police and security officials, Pope Francis described trafficking as "one of the major challenges of our time" and he praised participants for the important contribution they’re making to end this scourge of modern slavery.
The number of victims, he noted, keeps growing year by year and it’s essential both to support victims of trafficking, but also to tackle the complex problems that lead to their exploitation.
Cardinal Nichols told journalists the group had presented the pope with the a report of positive developments in the 30 countries that are now part of the Santa Marta process...
“Above all perhaps, what this report shows is that human slavery and trafficking is not so hidden as it used to be. There is an increasing awareness that this, in the phrase of the Holy Father, is an open wound in the flesh of humanity, and that voices that were once completely hidden are now being heard”.
Those voices include that of Nigerian survivor Princess Inyang, who was trafficked into Italy in 1999 and forced into prostitution, until she was able to escape, with help from a priest working in the northern city of Asti. She shared her story at the conference and called for deportation of the traffickers, as well as more education and skills training for vulnerable girls in her home country...
“The women are vulnerable because of the poverty in Nigeria, the background of the polygamy system of the families, the non-employment, and now we know that the traffickers go into the rural areas to get these young women because of their serious problems”.
Another survivor, who also works to help others avoid the traffickers, is former Premier League player Al Bangura, originally from Sierra Leone. A keen footballer from an early age, he was tricked into going to England with promises of a dream career. He managed to escape the traffickers and now serves as ambassador for a UK based charity called Sport for Freedom.
“With everything I’ve been through, I want to be out there to share my story, to educate kids and talk to parents who’re desperate for their kids to achieve….we also work with the Premiership… to make sure the kids are going in the rights direction and make sure we stop this slavery thing.”
From Africa to Latin America, from Asia to Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, the conference heard many encouraging stories of success in combatting the trade in people for prostitution, forced labour or sale of their body parts. But as their report also underlines, there is much frustration too, coupled with a renewed determination to work more effectively together for an end to what Pope Francis himself describes as a “crime against humanity”.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said God weeps over today's calamities, the wars waged to worship ‘the idol of money’ and over the many innocent victims killed by the bombs. He stressed that God weeps because humanity does not understand “the peace that He offers us.” His words came during the Mass celebrated on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from a reading from the gospel of Luke where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, the “closed” city that “kills the prophets and stones those sent” to it, Pope Francis’ homily reflected on some of the moments of weeping during Christ’s ministry. He explained that Jesus had the tenderness of His Father looking at his children when he wept over the city of Jerusalem in the gospel account saying: “How many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling.”
“Somebody said that God became man in order to be able to weep, to weep over what His children had done. The weeping in front of the tomb of Lazarus is the weeping of a friend. This is the weeping of the Father.”
In the same way, the Pope continued, we can look at the behaviour of the father of the prodigal son and what happens when this son asks for his inheritance and leaves home. He said the father did not go to his neighbours to say “Look what has happened to me! This horrible thing he did to me! But I will curse this son…” Pope Francis said he is certain that the father did not do this although maybe he went “to weep alone in his bedroom.”
“And why do I tell you this? Because the Gospel does not talk about this, it says that when his son returned home, he saw him from afar: this means that the Father was continually going up onto the terrace to look at the road to see if his son was coming back. And a father who does this is a father who lives in tears, waiting for his son to return home. This is the weeping of God the Father. And with his weeping, the Father recreates through his Son all of creation.”
Turning next to the moment when Jesus is carrying the cross to Calvary, Pope Francis reflected on the pious women who were weeping, saying they were not weeping over Him but over their own children. He stressed that this weeping like that of a father and of a mother is one that God still continues to do in our times.
“Even nowadays in front of the calamities, the wars waged in order to worship the god of money, the many innocent people killed by the bombs launched by those who worship the idol of money, God still weeps and He also says: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, my children, what are you doing?’ And he also says this to the poor victims, to the arms traffickers and to all those who sell the life of people. We’d do well to think both about how God our Father became man in order to be able to weep and how God our Father weeps nowadays: he weeps over humanity that ends up not understanding the peace that He offers us, the peace of love.”(from Vatican Radio)