Vatican news

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  1. Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There is the bloody martyrdom of Christians killed for their faith, but also another “martyrdom” which takes place when religious freedom is unjustly limited, Pope Francis said Friday in an audience with a group which assists the Church in the Holy Land.

    “It is in front of the whole world – which too often turns its gaze to the other side – the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-increasing numbers,” the pope said Nov. 16 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

    “In addition to their martyrdom in their blood,” he said, “there is also their ‘white martyrdom,’ such as that which occurs in democratic countries when freedom of religion is restricted.”

    Pope Francis spoke with around 130 members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on the final day of their Nov. 13-16 general assembly in Rome. The knighthood order provides financial support to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

    To their material support, the pope urged them to unite prayer under the intercession of Our Lady of Palestine. “She is caring Mother and the Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort from the Lord in sorrow,” he said.

    Emphasizing that the order is not just a “philanthropic agency,” he called its members to “place the evangelical love of your neighbor as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone.”

    Since the order’s last general assembly in 2013, it has grown in number, in geography, in pilgrimages, and in the material assistance it has offered to the Church in the Holy Land, the pope noted, thanking the members for their support of the Holy Land.

    “It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the professed religion.”

    “In this way you help to pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding,” he said, adding: “your contribution to the construction of the path... will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region.”

    Francis also noted the assembly’s agenda, which focused on the role of the local leaders, but underlined the importance of remembering that their main purpose is the spiritual growth of members – not the success of charitable initiatives which cannot be separated from “religious formation programs” for members.

    So that members, called knights and ladies, may “strengthen their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, in the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and in the deepening of the doctrine of the church,” he said.

    Leaders of the order of the Holy Sepulchre, he urged, have the task in particular of giving an example “of intense spiritual life and concrete adherence to the Lord.”

    Francis closed the audience by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Church in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, “with her special intercession for those whose life and freedom are in danger.”

  2. Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 11:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited Friday the temporary medical clinics serving Rome’s poor and homeless in St. Peter's Square this week.

    During the Nov. 16 visit to the free mobile health clinics, which lasted about 20 minutes, the pope greeted those present, speaking with them and giving them each a rosary he had blessed.

    He also greeted the volunteers and medical professionals within each of the shelters. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, accompanied the visit.

    The mobile clinics, an initiative begun last year, have been open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day the week leading up to the World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated Nov. 18.

    The temporary center offers Rome’s poor and homeless free visits with doctors specializing in general medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, gynecology, obstetrics, podiatry, dermatology, rheumatology, and ophthalmology. A laboratory for clinical analysis is also present.

    Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day of the Poor takes its theme for 2018 from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

    The day will be marked by the pope with a Mass with the poor in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by lunch with around 3,000 poor men and women inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

    Present at the tables of the lunch will also be members of the Roman community, such as volunteers from local charitable organizations, parish priests, and university students and faculty.

    The evening prior a prayer vigil for charitable volunteers and others who help the poor will be held at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.
     

  3. Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis encouraged the community of the Pontifical Latin American College Thursday to avoid cultural fragmentation and to be close to their people.

    “One of the phenomena currently afflicting the continent is cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots,” the pope said Nov. 15 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

    “This is exacerbated when arguments are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who 'are not one of us', even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from combining in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest autochthonous traditions.

    He spoke to the community to mark the 160th anniversary of the college's founding. He noted that it “is one of the few Roman Colleges whose identity does not refer to a nation or a charism, but which seeks rather to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land … offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion that is expressly 'Latin Americanized'.”

    Francis lamented that new generations are “uprooted and fragmented”, and said that “the Church is not external to this situation and is exposed to this temptation; since she is subject to the same environment, she runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one form of polarization or another, or becoming uprooted if one forgets that the vocation is a meeting ground.”

    He added that “the invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.”

    Because of this, he said it is important at the college “to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years you can learn to know better and make your own the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of your brothers; you can name and face specific situations that our people live, and face and feel your neighbour’s problems as if they were your own.”

    The Pontifical Latin American College should help create a good priestly community “if one knows how to help oneself, if one is able to lay down roots in the lives of others, brothers and sons with a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and the same Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely 'parochial' and to lead communities that know how to open up to others to interact and to promote hope.”

    Latin America needs, he said, “artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can inspire today … A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and this is fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself out, of isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important – not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling part of the community – can awaken and encourage processes and dynamics capable of transcending time.”

    “This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent,” Pope Francis said.

    “Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and, worse still, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life. And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America … a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.”

    He said Latin America knows that “the love for Christ and of Christ can not manifest itself except in passion for life and for the destiny of our peoples, and especially solidarity with the poorest, the suffering and those in need.”

    The pope said this “reminds us of the importance … of developing the pleasure of always being close to the life of our people; never isolating ourselves from them. The life of the diocesan presbyter is lived – the repetition is valid – in this identification and belonging. The mission is passion for Jesus, but at the same time, it is passion for His people. It is learning to look where He looks and to let ourselves be moved by the same things He is moved by: feelings for the life of His brothers, especially sinners and of all those who are despondent and fatigued, like sheep without a shepherd. Please, do not huddle in personal or community enclosures that keep us away from the hubs where history is written. Captivated by Jesus and members of His Body, we integrate fully into society, share life with everyone, listen to their concerns... rejoice with those who are happy, mourn with those who mourn and offer every Eucharist for all those faces that were entrusted to us.”

    Francis said the linking of the college's anniversary with the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a sometime student, is providential, calling him a “living sign of the fruitfulness and sanctity of the Latin American Church. A man rooted in the Word of God and in the hearts of his people.”

    “This reality allows us to make contact with that long chain of witnesses in which we are invited to place our roots and take inspiration from every day … Do not fear holiness, and do not fear spending your life for your people.”

    “On the path of cultural and pastoral miscegenation we are not orphans; Our Mother accompanies us,” Pope Francis stated. “She wanted to be like that, mestizo and fertile, and that is how she is with us, our Mother of tenderness and strength who rescues us from the paralysis or confusion of fear, just because she is simply there, as our Mother.”

    “Brother priests, let us not forget, and confidently ask her to show us the way, to free us from the perversion of clericalism, increasingly to make us 'village pastors' and not to let us become 'clerics of the state'.”

    He concluded with a message for his brother Jesuits who help run the college, saying that “one of the distinctive notes of the Society’s charism is seeking to harmonize contradictions without falling prey to reductionism. This is why Saint Ignatius wanted to think of the Jesuits as men of contemplation and action, men of discernment and obedience, committed to daily life and free to leave.”

    The Jesuits at the college should help the young priests “to harmonize the contradictions that life presents to them and present them without falling into reductionism, gaining in the spirit of discernment and freedom,” he said.

    “Teach how to embrace problems and conflicts without fear; to handle dissent and confrontation. Teach how to reveal all kinds of 'correct' but reductionist discourse is a crucial task for those who accompany their brothers in formation. Help them to discover the art and taste of discernment as a way of proceeding to find, in the midst of difficulties, the ways of the Spirit by tasting and feeling the Deus semper maior within. Be teachers of broad horizons and, at the same time, teach how to take charge of the small, to embrace the poor and the sick, and to take on the reality of everyday life. Non coereceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est.”

  4. Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and XVI have written letters lending their support to a Vatican-sponsored conference on the risks posed to fundamental human rights.

    In a letter on a Nov. 15-16 international symposium in Rome, Benedict wrote that he believes it “extraordinarily useful” to make a close examination of the issue of the “multiplication of rights” and the risk this poses.

    Pope Francis, in his own letter on the conference, pointed to Benedict XVI as having “lucidly warned of the urgency of these issues for our time,” and having “intervened authoritatively on them as a thinker and as a pastor.”

    The symposium, which is on the theme of “fundamental rights and conflicts between rights,” is being organized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. It is being held at LUMSA, a Catholic university in Rome.

    Addressing Lombardi, the former director of the Holy See press office, Benedict wrote that the issue of increasing “rights” is a “current and fundamental question to protect the foundations of the coexistence of the human family,” and is a topic deserving of “an in-depth and systematic reflection.”

    The pope emeritus concluded the brief letter with a promise of his esteem and prayers for the event’s speakers and participants, asking the Lord’s blessing on their work “as a precious service for the Church and for the good of the human family.”

    In his own letter to Lombardi, Pope Francis pointed to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, noting the appropriateness of having “an in-depth reflection on its implementation and on developing the vision of human rights in today’s world.”

    The pope said about the symposium that the changing interpretation of certain rights and the appearance of “new rights,” especially in recent years, “opens up a series of problems that tend to involve, at bottom, the very idea of law and its foundations.”

    He praised the pope emeritus’ interventions on the issue of human rights and noted that it was for that reason LUMSA bestowed on Benedict XVI an honorary degree in jurisprudence 20 years ago.

    “I therefore hope,” Francis continued, “that the Symposium of high academic level that is about to be celebrated, drawing inspiration from the thought and the magisterium of our beloved Pope Emeritus, can contribute with courage and depth to illuminate an essential problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his integral development.”

  5. Vatican City, Nov 14, 2018 / 05:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians are called to not only refrain from telling falsehoods, but to conduct their entire lives – both words and actions – as a witness to the Truth that is Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

    “Let us ask ourselves: what truth do the works of us Christians attest to, our words, our choices?” the pope said Nov. 14. “Everyone can ask themselves: am I a witness to the truth, or am I more or less a liar disguised as a true person?”

    In his weekly catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the eighth commandment: “you shall not give false witness against thy neighbor.”

    “The truth,” he said, “finds its full realization in the very person of Jesus, in his way of living and dying, the fruit of his relationship with the Father.” As children of God, people are given this same access to truth, sent through the Holy Spirit, “who is the Spirit of truth, who attests to our hearts that God is our Father.”

    Francis explained that “in every one of his actions man affirms or denies this truth. From small everyday situations to the most demanding choices. But it is the same logic: that which parents and grandparents teach us when they tell us not to lie. The same logic.”

    According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said, the commandment against lying, “forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others.”

    “Inauthentic communication” is a serious error because it prevents relationships and love, which require truth; and “where there is a lie there is no love, there can be no love,” he emphasized.

    To tell the truth in one’s relationships means more than to just not tell a falsehood with one’s words, he continued, listing also “gestures, attitudes, silences, and absences,” as possible occasions of dishonesty.

    “A person speaks with everything he is and what he does. We are always in communication. We all live by communicating and we are constantly poised between truth and falsehood,” he stated.

    An element of telling the truth in relationships includes not gossiping, he said, departing from his prepared remarks to emphasize that to gossip is like dropping a bomb, which destroys the community and the reputation of others.

    “Be careful!” he urged. “How much gossip destroys communion for inappropriateness or lack of delicacy!”

    Just because one may have told the truth about another person, does not mean it was right to say it, or to reveal some personal or confidential information, Francis warned.

    Christians are not exceptional people, but “we are children of the heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint,” therefore, Christians are able to live in the truth “not so much said with discourses,” he said, but as a “way of existing, a way of life, and it is seen in every single act.”

    “Truth is a marvelous revelation of God, of his Father’s face, is his boundless love,” he said.

    The question, “what is truth?” Francis noted, is what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus when he questioned him about his kingship before handing him over to the Jewish people to be crucified.

    Jesus said: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Jesus gives this “testimony” by his passion and death, Pope Francis said. Through his manner of suffering and dying, “Jesus manifests the Father, his merciful and faithful love.”

    “Not to say false testimony means to live as a child of God… letting the great truth emerge in every act: that God is Father and we can trust Him. I trust God: this is the great truth,” he concluded.

    “From our trust in God, who is a Father and loves me, loves us, my truth is born; and to be truthful and not a liar.”