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Mar 17 17 4:09 PM
No words, no comment, but a long moment of silence, reflection and prayer. Pope Francis who did not deliver any homily during the Lenten penitential liturgy called "24 hours for the Lord," which, as every year, was held in the afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica. A novelty compared to other years; probably a choice of the Pope, in a time of such persistent "noise", to highlight the sense of a fundamental sacrament in the Christian life as a "place" to learn "the face of God's mercy." A chance for the Argentine Pope also to pray with the faithful of Rome arrived in the Basilica. Because it is precisely in prayer that one can ask God for "the gift of a wounded heart, able to understand other people's wounds and heal them with the oil of mercy," as he said in this morning audience to the participants at an annual course on the internal forum, organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. As in other years, however, the liturgy has seen the image of a penitent Pope in front of a priest, his head bowed and hands clasped, kneeling in one of the 95 confessionals that line the right aisle of St. Peter's Basilica. His vestments set aside, Bergoglio confessed first, for about four minutes, and then confessed for about 50 minutes some of the faithful. Seven of them received by the Pope himself the sacrament of Reconciliation: three men and four women, all of whom were lay people. In total, tells the Vatican press office, the confessions lasted about 50 minutes, at the sound of the songs of the choirboys of the choir of the Sistine Chapel, conducted by Monsignor Massimo Palombella. This year, the booklet of the liturgy suggested some ideas for the examination of conscience. Twenty-five questions to "examine oneself in the light of God's Word." Among these were some dedicated to issues of human life, such as: "Have I attempted on the existential and physical integrity of the other?"; "Have I procured or advised abortion?"; "Have I acted against my physical integrity (e.g., sterilization)?". Or moments of everyday life: "Have I refrained from exercising unnecessary work on holidays?"; " Have I endangered my life or that of others driving a car or using other means of transport?". Some suggestions were addressed to parents: "Have I set a good example for my children?"; the and to the children: "Have I been obedient to my parents? Have I respected their authority? "; to spouses: "Have my feelings and actions been always faithful?". There were also some questions with more "social" nuances “Am I able to give, with no self-interest, to those who are poorer than me? As far as it depends on me, do I defend the oppressed and help the needy? Or do I treat my neighbor with arrogance or hardness, especially the poor, the weak, the elderly, the marginalized, the immigrants? ". The initiative "24 hours for the Lord", of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of the New Evangelization, will simultaneously involve many dioceses of the world next 24 and 25 March, on the eve of the fourth Sunday of Lent. The theme of this year's initiative is "I desire Mercy "(Mt 9:13).
Mar 18 17 6:24 AM
The handwriting is tiny, barely legible and written in the author's native Spanish. But the ideas are so familiar by now that they are easily understood.They are the handwritten notes of the speech Jorge Mario Bergoglio delivered to his fellow cardinals on the eve of his election as pope. And they make for fascinating reading now, a preview to a papacy that has been marked by Bergoglio's wish for a church that isn't consumed with "theological narcissism" or "spiritual worldliness" but instead goes to the "peripheries" to find wounded souls.The man who is now Pope Francis celebrated the fourth anniversary of his March 13, 2013, election this week amid a stream of commentary about what he has and hasn't achieved as the 266th pontiff.What isn't up for debate is that his 2013 speech, delivered during the closed-door "general congregations" that precede a conclave, was so inspiring to the princes of the Catholic Church that they elected him pope a few days later."The church is called to go outside of itself and go to the peripheries, not just geographic but also the existential peripheries," he said. "Those of the mystery of sin, of pain, injustice, ignorance, spiritual privation, thoughts and complete misery."He denounced what he called the "self-referential" tendency of the church to remain closed-in on itself, unwilling to open its doors and go out to find those who most need God's comfort. "The evil that can afflict church institutions over time has its root in this self-referential nature, a sort of theological narcissism."He said the future pope should be a man who, contemplating Jesus, "helps the church go to the existential peripheries and helps it to be a fertile mother who lives from the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing."Havana's then-archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, was so taken by Bergoglio's speech that he asked for a copy. Bergoglio didn't have one — he often speaks off-the-cuff — but he put some notes down on paper as best as he could remember and handed them over. Ortega asked if he could publish the text, and asked again after Bergoglio was elected pope, knowing well the historic value of what amounted to the winning stump speech by history's first Latin American pope.The answer was yes.The notes, divided into four bullet-point sections with a few key terms underlined, are kept in the Havana archdiocese. The archdiocesan magazine "Palabra Nueva" published them originally and provided the image to The Associated Press this week.
Mar 19 17 5:34 AM
4 years of Francis. Hummes: “Every reform raises resistances”On the anniversary of Bergoglio’s pontificate, an analysis by the Cardinal who whispered to the newly elected Pontiff the famous phrase: “Do not forget the poor!”Some refer to him as one of the “grand electors” of the Argentine Pope. He reacts more modestly and does not accept any merit. Nor he would have ever imagined that a simple phrase uttered as a friend would have had such an impact on Jorge Mario Bergoglio. That March 13, 2013, the Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes was the first to embrace the newly elected Pope and whisper in his ear: “Do not forget the poor.” A few simple words, that had an enormous effect on the Pontiff to the point of taking the name Francis after the poor of Assisi. Hummes, a Franciscan, former archbishop of São Paulo and former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, in an interview with Vatican Insider takes an overall look at Bergoglio’s four years of pontificate, during which the Church has lived and is living a “strong shock” despite some resistances. Which, according to the cardinal, are “normal” because “every reform arouses resistance.” How would you consider these past four years? Excellent. It is an extraordinary pontificate. Pope Francis has prompted the Church to open up, to reach out, especially to the suburbs and the poor, asking for solidarity and closeness. He has always done it with great commitment. This is perhaps the most obvious feature of these four years. As well as the issue of peace, another real challenge. The Pope is always where the conflicts are, he is there, he personally goes and convenes the public authorities involved to encourage them to launch peace processes of dialogue and openness . What struck you most of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s pontificate? I remember that shortly after his election, when he feared the threat of a military intervention in Syria by the United States, the Holy Father called a vigil for peace. He stayed for about six hours in prayer, with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. At the end, there was no war. This means that even Barack Obama has understood ... Prayers to God have an enormous power and have moved the heart of the former US president who has long pondered the Pope’s gesture before moving the army. Then the Pope summoned at the Vatican the presidents of Israel and Palestine to pray for peace. And they came! He was also in Cuba to “build a bridge” with the US, he has done a great work for peace. He has also expressed interest in creation, the climate and environment crisis with his encyclical “Laudato si’”. Another of his strong commitments that can be retraced to his name choice: Francis, the saint of the poor, of peace and creation, as he explained to reporters moments after his election. These three topics - the poor, peace, and creation - are the fundamentals of his ministry. In your opinion, what has been the impact of the Argentine Pope within the Church? The issue of mercy shook the Church. It encouraged relying less on the law and more on love, less on the structures and more on life, to do good and be close to people in a comforting act. Because we shall remember that not the law, but only mercy can saves us. It is a new climate for the Church, in the sense that there is a strong returning to the Gospel. A pilgrimage through history to include people and not exclude anyone. Even dialogue has been an important chapter in the Pope’s mission ... One of the most important things for Pope Francis is sharing the path with everyone: as friends, as brothers and not as opponents, in mutual respect, united when possible always in favor of the common good and the salvation of humanity. This is enlighten history: the Pope wants to dialogue with other religions, with other Christian Churches, with all people of good will. March 13, 2013, when Bergoglio was elected Pope, you were the first Cardinal to embrace him with the famous phrase: “Do not forget the poor.” Why did you say this? I had not prepared anything, when I embraced him these words came out spontaneously:” Do not forget the poor! “. It was in my heart, but had never practiced it. Nor could I imagine that this could have had such a strong effect on the new Pope, in his thinking. He himself told me that he had chosen the name of Francis for this ... Obviously it was the Holy Spirit speaking through my mouth. In addition to the positive things, in the past four years some resistances have also emerged. Did you expect such strong criticism against this Church reform? All reforms arouse resistance. There are people who are comfortable the way things are and are afraid of losing something, or perhaps just have a different vision. However, diversity within the Church is not a bad thing, because the church itself is united in diversity: diversity of cultures, thoughts, of ways of understanding life. Evil happens when differences become divisions, contrasts, conflicts. This cannot be accepted, division destroys the Church. Are these resistances a temporal phenomenon or have deeper roots? I am very optimistic. I believe that this is all part of the path, we shall go forward, and the Pope does it with great serenity. We all need support to walk. At the end, God shall enlighten us by his grace. Even reforms grow roots. Perhaps the Pope is not fully understood by his critics? For example, do you believe there has been a misunderstanding regarding the exhortation “Amoris laetitia”? I would rather not go much into the matter; the context is already quite hectic. I fully support the apostolic exhortation. Let us not forget that there have been two synods to confirm the Pope’s teaching. How is the Pope perceived in the southern hemisphere? His Latin American and non-European origins are definitely an asset. The Church has broken off from an historical circle. For centuries, in fact, the Church has been “self-acculturated” in Europe and this self-acculturation has been a great success. Now, the fact that the Pope is not part of this “circle” gives the Church a more comprehensive attitude and a new universality. Not that it was not universal before, but it is now richer, and more multifaceted. The Church cannot fail to acculturate from other peoples. The fact that the Pope comes “from outside” gives the Church new openings, new possibilities.
Mar 20 17 7:30 AM
Pope begs forgiveness for Church role in Rwanda genocide VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis on Monday begged forgiveness for the "sins and failings of the church and its members" during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, and told Rwanda's president that he hoped his apology would help the country heal.In an extraordinary statement after Francis' meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that the church itself bore blame, as well as some Catholic priests and nuns who "succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission" by participating in the genocide.During the 100-day genocide, more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns, according to some accounts by survivors, and the Rwandan government says many died in the churches where they had sought refuge.During the 25-minute meeting in the Apostolic Palace, Francis "implored anew God's forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church and its members," the Vatican said.He "expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which unfortunately disfigured the face of the church, may contribute to a 'purification of memory' and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace."The Rwandan government has long pressured the church to apologize for its complicity in the genocide, but both the Vatican and the local church have been reluctant to do so. The church has long said those church officials who committed crimes acted individually.In 1996, St. John Paul II refused to take blame on the church's part for what transpired in Rwanda, saying in a letter to Rwandan bishops that: "The church in itself cannot be held responsible for the misdeeds of its members who have acted against evangelical law." Four years later, however, he did make a general apology for a host of Catholic sins and crimes over its 2,000-year history.Amid continued pressure from the government, Rwanda's Catholic bishops last year apologized for "all the wrongs the church committed."The ministry of local government rejected the apology then as inadequate. During Rwanda's annual dialogue in December, Kagame said he didn't understand why the church was so reluctant to apologize for genocide when popes have apologized for much lesser crimes."I don't understand why the pope would apologize for sexual offenses, whether it is in the U.S., Ireland or Australia, but cannot apologize for the role of the church in the genocide that happened here," Kagame said at the time.On Monday, the Rwandan government called Francis' meeting with Kagame a "positive step forward.""Today's meeting was characterized by a spirit of openness and mutual respect," said Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. "It allows us to build a stronger base for restoring harmony between Rwandans and the Catholic Church."However, Mushikiwabo repeated charges that even before 1994, Catholic institutions helped divide Rwandans and "laid the intellectual foundation for genocide ideology.""Today, genocide denial and trivialization continue to flourish in certain groups within the church and genocide suspects have been shielded from justice within Catholic institutions," the statement said.
Mar 20 17 11:51 AM
Mar 21 17 7:12 AM
Pope Francis on Netflix: from the slums of Argentina to the halls of the Vatican Released in Italian cinemas in late 2015, “Call Me Francis” could not have predicted the pontiff’s more startling recent statements about marriage and the clergy. But the series, now available on Netflix, obviously has a good sense of the pope’s character and ethos. And where they tend to lead him.In one key scene, the no-longer-fresh-faced but ever-wiser Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Rodrigo De la Serna) is ministering near Buenos Aires to a slum priest who has fallen in love with a young catechist. Bergoglio doesn’t chastise. He doesn’t judge. He counsels: The people here need you, he says; your work is important. And if you really can’t leave the girl, “there are churches that can accept you as a married priest. The Evangelical Church, for example.” The look on the younger cleric’s face is comically confused.“Call Me Francis” is unafraid to delve into Francis’ subtle intellectual conflicts with himself, the anxieties of being a pro-Peronist in the polarized Argentina of the 1960s, the real peril of defying, however clandestinely, the military junta that oppressed his native land from 1976 to 1983. But neither is it afraid to be funny. The scene described above takes a rather light-hearted approach to a serious priestly dilemma; so does a sequence in Buenos Aires earlier in the series during which Bergoglio seeks an alliance with a sympathetic judge (Muriel Santa Ana). They have dinner, he agrees to baptize her baby and only then learns that she is unmarried with three children. You can literally hear him gulp.The scene with the amorous priest is not just funny but, like much of “Call Me Francis,” also bitingly political. The challenge to Roman Catholicism dominance by Evangelical Protestantism in South America has much to do with the church’s perceived moral rigidity and compliance with the kind of government that Bergoglio valiantly—if pragmatically—resisted as provincial superior of the Society of Jesus during the mid- to late-70s. It is also quite revealing of Francis’ nature as a spiritual shepherd: He does not instruct his subordinate in the course he must follow; he lays out the man’s options in a way that encourages the righteous path. One might say his papacy has taken a similar tack.If one is inclined to celebrate the four years of this pope by watching the four parts of “Call Me Francis,” rest assured there are worse ways of spending one’s time. If you understand Spanish, great. Otherwise you will find the subtitles less than fully illuminating. The initial episode of the series is something of a slog, at least until the young Bergoglio somehow gets the illustrious Jorge Luis Borges to visit his high school literature class in Santa Fe, Argentina—where, again, pro-and anti-Peronist sentiments clash and the half-blind Borges is insulted by the kind of privileged individual who will later be oppressing his country.De la Serna—who was Gael García Bernal’s sidekick when the latter played Che Guevara in “The Motorcycle Diaries”—is more of a leading man than the pope probably ever was, but he brings to the role an inner life and intellectual gravity that serve his character well. The romance that the pope has said nearly derailed his early vocation is portrayed here as almost entirely one-sided—the young woman is in love with him, not he with her, and his extrication from what is less than a romance is a little awkward, but mostly gentle. His interrogation by Jesuits when he tries to join the order is an intricate dance of minds, the questions arcane, the answers equally subtle. When he goes to Rome 10 years after his teaching career in Santa Fe, he expects, perhaps, an assignment to Japan. But no, he is told, “You are strong in your doctrine, and flexible with humanity.” He is exactly who they need back in Argentina. (His differences with the order are not part of the story.)As a de facto politician during the Junta, Bergoglio is unafraid to play hardball, using the imprimatur of the church to extort decency out of thuggish generals who don’t mind torturing innocents if their hereafter is assured by an accommodating church. Yes, the church takes a few beatings itself in “Call Me Francis,” for absolving the sins of oppressors, for complicity with the dictatorship and, even, a decade after the fact, urging “forgiveness” for crimes that were never prosecuted—or, in most cases, acknowledged. It was not anyone’s finest hour, but Bergoglio, it is made clear, acquitted himself with honor, compassion and no small amount of remorse for some very human shortcomings.The Chilean actor Sergio Hernández plays Francis as an older man (De la Serna is Argentine); his ruminations in Rome, just prior to his election, bookend the chapters and the series. The transition from one actor to the other is one of the more stirring sequences in the film: During a homily about poverty and exclusion delivered to a church full of well-to-do Argentines, there are two priests speaking, two Bergoglios; the initial effect is bewildering, but then one realizes we are watching the physical man change before our eyes, while his principals remain the same. And though older, he will wade back into the crisis in Argentina with vigor when bodies begin turning up and the scandals of the dictatorship resurface.“Call Me Francis” is occasionally much too talky; the direction by the Italian Daniele Luchetti, despite a few dazzling flourishes, is mostly workmanlike. But the charity and soulfulness of the story are considerable. That it was purchased by Netflix from an Italian production company owned by Silvio Berlusconi might give one pause. But why be small-minded about such a big-hearted story?
Mar 21 17 9:27 AM
There are few who have this Pope’s ear in the same way as Honduran Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga. The 74-year-old saxophone-playing prelate is a telegenic polyglot who has been co-ordinating the important "C9" council of nine cardinals advising Francis on his reforms. He’s just provided an insight into that work in a book by Italian journalist Francesco Antonioli compiling reflections on the Pope titled Francis and Us (Francesco e Noi). Among the contributors is Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman who died in January. In his essay, Cardinal Rodriguez reveals how Francis was a reformer right from the moment of his election when, during the conclave, he scrapped the tradition of cardinals “paying homage” to the new Pope by greeting them himself. Then, just four days after his election, Francis approached Rodriguez with a proposal about the new cardinal advisory body he wanted to set up. “Can you coordinate it?” the Pope asked him. The cardinal, who has been a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio’s since 2007 when they worked on the Latin American church’s Aparecida document, replied: "If you ask me, I have to."Since then, the 74-year-old Salesian explained that Francis has changed the exercise of the papacy through an “encyclical of gestures” such as washing the feet of Muslim women and migrants while insisting on living in the Casa Santa Marta. After looking around the palatial papal apartments Francis told Rodríguez they were like “a prison”.While these gestures are important the Pope was elected with a clear wish from his fellow cardinals which the Honduran papal adviser sums up as follows: “the Vatican curia needs to be reformed”. Today he says Francis is pressing ahead with the mandate “great sincerity and, at the same time, firmness”. But he admits there is still much work to be done. Areas of the Vatican’s finances still need to be tackled while a revamp of the Holy See’s media operation is underway: the two are linked with Rodríguez explaining that Vatican Radio had a deficit of €26 million. While reforms are taking shape at the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) - better known as the Vatican Bank - the C9 are now looking at another financial power house Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) which has investments and properties in Rome, Paris and London. This body, the cardinal explained, acts as a sort of central bank for the Vatican, and it is APSA that pays the wages of Holy See employees. The cardinal stresses that the top priority for the Pope has been sorting out the finances, work that is being followed by writing a new constitution for the Roman Curia. This, Rodriguez says, will take into greater account the role of bishops conferences and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in ensuring more say goes to local churches. In the book Rodriguez also gives an insight into the informal - more Latin American - style of papal meetings. He explains that the C9 now gathers in Santa Marta on his suggestion. The first meeting, he explained, took place at the Vatican’s Apostolic palace requiring them to wear “official cassock and lace” and leave half an hour to arrive and another half an hour to leave. As a result Cardinal Rodriguez told the Pope they should use a meeting room in the Pope’s residence, and Francis agreed.The discussions here taken place in a fraternal spirit and “a love for the Church”, according to Rodríguez, while the Pope happily stops to have a coffee break with his fellow cardinals. While Francis’ Vatican reforms are taking time to be implemented - however they do shake out, expect Cardinal Rodríguez to be playing a central role.
Mar 21 17 1:23 PM
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Mar 25 17 7:07 AM
“What hope is there for the Europe of today and tomorrow?” Pope Francis asked when he addressed the leaders of 27 European Union countries this evening in the Sala Regia (Royal Hall) of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, March 25, 1957, that created the European Economic Community, the forerunner of today’s European Union.He said the answer to that question is to be found in “the pillars” with which the union’s founding fathers—the leaders of Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Luxembourg—had laid 60 years ago, namely: “the centrality of man, concrete solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future.”Today the E.U. has 28 member states (but the United Kingdom has voted to leave it, and its Prime Minister was not present), some 500 million people, 22 percent of the world’s G.D.P., and is a big hitter on the world scene, but it is threatened by populist movements in several countries that exploit internal problems, including the question of migration, and push to exit from the union.Francis believes in the E.U., and sees its importance not only for the peoples of this continent but also for peace and development in the world, but he is convinced it must be reformed. He made this clear today, and advocated that on the path to reform E.U.’s leaders should revisit the origins of the union in 1957 when its founding fathers signed the Treaty “after the dark years and bloodshed of the Second World War” because they “had faith in the possibility of a better future.”He recalled that from the outset, the founding fathers understood that the Treaty would remain a dead letter unless they had “spirit and life” and so they agreed that “the first element of European vitality must be solidarity.” Francis emphasized that this spirit of solidarity “remains as necessary as ever today, in the face of centrifugal impulses and the temptation to reduce the founding ideals of the Union to productive, economic and financial needs.”Sixty years ago, he said, the world was marked “with the tragedy of walls and divisions” and “it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe,” but he noted that today Europeans seem to have forgotten all this and now focus on “how to keep out the ‘dangers’ of our time: beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones.” They forget too that the 1957 treaty has led to “the longest period of peace experienced in recent centuries” and “without peace we cannot build a future for anyone.”The world “has changed greatly” since then he said, and is today “dominated by the concept of crisis”: the economic crisis, the crisis of the family and of established social models, the crisis of institutions and the migration crisis. These crises “engender fear and profound confusion in our contemporaries, who look for a new way of envisioning the future.”He explained that in the original Greek the word “crisis” means “to discern, to weigh, to assess,” and declared that “ours is a time of discernment, one that invites us to determine what is essential and to build on it. It is a time of challenge and opportunity.”He said the opportunity can come by restoring “the pillars” on which the union was first founded. He told E.U. leaders that the union “finds new hope when man is the center and the heart of her institutions.” But for this hope to become reality he said E.U. leaders must listen to “the expectations voiced by individuals, society, and the peoples who make up the Union,” because right now this is not happening and “there is a growing ‘split’ between the citizenry and the European institutions, which are often perceived as distant and inattentive to the different sensibilities present in the Union.”By affirming “the centrality of man,” Francis said one can also recover the spirit of family, “whereby each contributes freely to the common home in accordance with his or her own abilities and gifts.” He described the E.U. as “a family of peoples” that “was born as a unity of differences and a unity in differences” and said that today it “needs to recover the sense of being primarily a ‘community” of persons and peoples.’”Above all, he said, Europe needs to recover a sense of “solidarity,” because therein lies its hope for the future. This solidarity entails “the awareness of being part of a single body” so that “when one suffers, all suffer.” In this context, Francis expressed solidarity “with the United Kingdom” and said, “we mourn the victims of the attack that took place in London two days ago.”Solidarity as “the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism,” Francis said and contrasted it with populism. “Solidarity is expressed in concrete actions and steps that draw us closer to our neighbours, in whatever situation they find themselves,” whereas “forms of populism are instead the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and ‘looking beyond’ their own narrow vision.” He emphasized the need for the peoples of the E.U. “to start thinking once again as Europeans” and called for a political leadership “which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously” as a result of which “those who run faster can offer a hand to those who are slower, and those who find the going harder can aim at catching up to those at the head of the line.”He told the E.U. heads of state that “Europe finds new hope when she refuses to yield to fear or close herself off in false forms of security.” He encouraged the E.U. to show “openness to the world” and to develop the capacity for dialogue on all levels: “between member states, between institutions and citizens, and with the numerous immigrants landing on the shores of the Union.”Then turning to the question of immigration that is sparking much controversy in the union, Pope Francis, the son of immigrants, said it is not enough to deal with the immigration crisis as if it were a question of numbers, or an economic or security matter. “The Immigration issue poses a deeper question, one that is primarily cultural. What kind of culture does Europe propose today?”Referring to “the fearfulness” that “is becoming increasingly evident,” Francis said this fear “has its root cause in the loss of ideals” and added that “without an approach inspired by those ideals, we end up dominated by the fear that others will wrench us from our usual habits, deprive us of familiar comforts, and somehow call into question a lifestyle that all too often consists of material prosperity alone.”The Jesuit pope recalled that “the richness of Europe has always been her spiritual openness and her capacity to raise basic questions about the meaning of life” and “a positive openness to this world” but he noted that “today’s prosperity seems to have clipped the continent’s wings and lowered its gaze.”He reminded E.U. leaders that “Europe has a patrimony of ideals and spiritual values unique in the world, one that deserves to be proposed once more with passion and renewed vigor, for it is the best antidote against the vacuum of values of our time, which provides a fertile terrain for every form of extremism.”He told them that the union would regain hope if it “invests in development and in peace,” a development that includes “the dignity of labor, decent living conditions, access to education and necessary medical care.” In his encyclical on “The Progress of Peoples,” Paul VI said that “development is the new name of peace,” and today Francis added that “there is no true peace whenever people are cast aside or forced to live in dire poverty. There is no peace without employment and the prospect of earning a dignified wage. There is no peace in the peripheries of our cities, with their rampant drug abuse and violence.”He told the E.U. leaders that “Europe finds new hope when she is open to the future. When she is open to young people, offering them serious prospects for education and real possibilities for entering the workforce. When she invests in the family, respects the consciences and the ideals of her citizens, makes it possible to have children without the fear of being unable to support them and defends life in all its sacredness.Francis said the European Union “is called today to examine itself, to care for the ailments that inevitably come with age, and to find new ways to steer its course.” He said it can gain “a new youthfulness” but this “will depend on its readiness to work together once again,” and “to wager on the future.”He concluded by telling E.U. leaders that they are “called to blaze the path of a ‘new European humanism’ made up of ideals and concrete actions,” and this means “being unafraid to take practical decisions capable of meeting people’s real problems and of standing the test of time.”He prayed that God would bless Europe with “peace and progress,” and afterwards greeted each E.U. leader.
Mar 25 17 8:44 AM
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Mar 28 17 2:11 AM
Francis, My PopeFrancis is quite the case.In a world after Amoris Laetitia, after supposed near-schism, after port-a-potties, it’s hard to think of a Francis beyond controversy, or at least the one of days past: the one scrutinized for embracing the deformed, for housing the homeless—the man in white.But he lives on, and it is precisely we Catholics who forget this. Caught up in our controversies as we are, we forget that Pope Francis is, in fact, a global figure, one seen, one observed, by more non-Catholics than Catholics.I was personally reminded of this during a recent conversation with a secular friend. In brief, she was clear: Francis is a reminder for her that there do exist religious people who transcend partisan politics, who stand in what a non-Christian can recognize as love (and is that not, in part, the definition of evangelization?). Global wars, dying refugees, a shattered nation, and, yes, Trump—in spite of these Pope Francis trods on and the world watches.Undeniably, the papacy of the digital age has its drawbacks. But what of the benefits? How many secular people look on and see both someone they can admire and, at the same time, someone who challenges their values? How many observe a man professing Christ and living what they can feel in their marrow to be love? How many remember that, indeed, there is a spiritual dimension to life—and one not merely beholden to chest-thumping and shouts—every time they see that old Argentine shuffle across a hallway or smile at a crowd?Pope Francis is imperfect; that ought to be clear. But we, my fellow Catholics, are blind at times to what to others are his most obvious traits. Conversion is a slow thing; I can say that from experience. I cannot say whether or not Pope Francis will bring us many converts, or at least begin to help people be open to the workings of the Spirit. Regardless, I do know many watch him and joy in the reminder that faith can bring great love, difficult works, a spirit imbued with genuine laetitia. And that warms my heart.For all his problems, for all our quarrels, I will say this: I am thankful for Pope Francis’ deep faith and joyous persona, for the hope he brings for the salvation of souls.
Mar 28 17 4:04 AM
Pope Francis has written to the United Nations to encourage this week’s talks at the global organization on crafting a new worldwide treaty to ban nuclear weapons, saying in a letter it is time for the international community to “go beyond” nuclear deterrence.Writing to the president of the conference -- which has been boycotted by many nuclear powers, including the United States -- the pontiff says he wants to encourage the some 120 countries taking part in the talks to “work with determination” to eliminate the need for atomic weapons.“We need … to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples,” Francis writes in the letter, released by the Vatican Tuesday.“International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power,” says the pope.“We need to go beyond nuclear deterrence,” Francis continues. “The ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons [is] both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative.”The nuclear ban treaty talks are being held at the UN in New York March 27-31. They were first announced in October and are being led by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden.The United States and most other nuclear powers, including Russia, oppose the negotiations. The Obama administration voted against convening them, and President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced Monday that she was joining a boycott of the talks, along with representatives from several dozen other nations.Francis sent his letter to Elayne Whyte Gómez, who is heading the talks and is Costa Rica’s representative at the UN. The pope had the document read aloud at the negotiations by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, an undersecretary at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.In the text the pope references his speech to the UN General Assembly during his trip the U.S. in September 2015, quoting his exhortation then that “an ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction -- and possibly the destruction of all mankind -- are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations.”Francis has put a special emphasis on Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence during his papacy. In his message for this year’s World Day of Peace he called on Christians to emulate Jesus way of acting nonviolently.“Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence,” the pope said in that message. “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.”
Mar 28 17 4:35 PM
Holy Father’s Answers to Some QuestionsA Young Person’s Question:Hello, I’m David and I come from Cornaredo. I would like to ask you a question: When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?Pope Francis: Good evening! David has asked a very simple question, which is easy for me to answer, because I must only remember somewhat the times when I was your age. And his question is: “When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?” There were three things, but with a thread that unites all three. The first thing that helped me was my grandparents. “But, Father, how can grandparents help one to grow in friendship with Jesus?” What do you think? Can they are can’t they?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: But grandparents are old!Young people: No!Pope Francis: No? They aren’t old?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: They are old . . . Grandparents are of another time: grandparents don’t know how to use a computer, they don’t have mobile phones . . . I ask once again: can grandparents help you to grow in friendship with Jesus?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: And this was my experience: my grandparents spoke to me normally of the things of life. One grandfather was a carpenter and he taught me how Jesus, learned the same craft with work and so, when I looked at my grandfather, I thought of Jesus. My other grandfather told me never to go to bed without saying a word to Jesus, to say “good night” to Him. My grandmother taught me to pray and also my mother – my other grandmother, the same . . . The important thing is this: grandparents have the wisdom of life. What do grandparents have?Young people: The wisdom of lifePope Francis: They have the wisdom of life. And with that wisdom they teach us how to get close to Jesus. They did it for me – first the grandparents. An advice: talk with your grandparents. Talk, ask all the questions you wish. Listen to your grandparents. In this time, it’s important to talk with your grandparents. Have you understood?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: And you, those of you who have living grandparents, do you make an effort to talk, to ask them questions, to listen to them? Will you make the effort? Will you do this work?Young people: Yes . . .Pope Francis: You’re not very convinced. Will you do it?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: Grandparents – then it helped me very much to play with friends, because to play well, to play and feel the joy of a game with friends, without insulting one another, and to think that Jesus played like this . . . But, I ask you: Did Jesus play or not?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: But He was God! God no, He can’t play . . . did Jesus play?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: You are convinced. Yes, Jesus played, and He played with others. And it does us good to play with friends, because when the game is clean, one learns to respect others, one learns to be a team, to work together. And this unites us to Jesus — to play with friends. However, there is something that I believe one of you said — does quarrelling with friends help to know Jesus?Young people: No!Pope Francis: What?Young people: No!Pope Francis: OK. And if one quarrels, because it’s normal to quarrel, but then one apologies, the story is finished. Is this clear?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: It helped me very much to play with friends. And a third thing that helped me to grow in friendship with Jesus was the parish, the Oratory, to go to the parish, to go to the Oratory, to meet with others: this is important! Do you like to go to the parish?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: Do you like . . . but tell the truth – do you like to go to Mass?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: [laughs] I’m not sure . . . Do you like to go to the Oratory?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: Ah yes, you like this. And these three things will make you – truly, this is advice that I give you – these three things will make your friendship with Jesus grow: to talk with grandparents, to play with friends and to go to the parish and to the Oratory because, with these three things, you will pray more. [Applause] And prayer is the thread that unites things. Thank you. [Applause]*Question of Two ParentsGood evening. We are Monica and Alberto, and we are parents of three, the last of whom will receive Holy Confirmation next October. The question we would like to ask you is this: how can we transmit to our children the beauty of the faith? Sometimes it seems so complicated to be able to speak of these things without becoming boring and banal or , worse yet, authoritarian. What words should we use?Pope Francis: Thank you. I had these questions before . . . Yes, because you sent them to me, and to be clear in the answer, I took some notes, I wrote something, and now I would like to answer Monica and Alberto.1: I think this is one of the key-questions that touches our life as parents: the transmission of the faith, and it also touches our life as Pastors, and as educators – the transmission of the faith. And I would like to ask you this question. And I invite you to recall who were the persons who left an imprint on your faith and what of them remained most imprinted in you? What the children asked me I ask you. Who were the persons, the situations, things that helped you to grow in the faith, the transmission of the faith. I invite you parents to become children again in your imagination for a minute, and to recall the persons who helped you to believe. “Who helped me to believe?” Father, mother, grandparents, a catechist, an aunt, the parish priest, a neighbor, perhaps . . . We all bear in our memory, but especially in the heart, someone who has helped us to believe. Now I pose a challenge to you. A minute’s silence . . . and each one think: who helped me to believe? And I respond for my part, and to respond in truth I must go back with the memory to Lombardy . . . [loud applause]. I was helped to believe, to grow a lot in the faith, by a priest of the diocese of Lodi; a good priest who baptized me and then during my whole life, I went to him: sometimes more often, at others less . . .; and he accompanied me until I entered the noviciate [of the Jesuits]. And I owe this to you, Lombardians, thank you! [Applause] And I never forget that priest, never, never. He was an apostle of the Confessional, an apostle of the Confessional – merciful, good worker. And so he helped me grow.Has everyone thought of the person? I have said who helped me. And you will ask the reason for this little exercise. Our children look at us constantly, even if we don’t realize it; they observe us all the time and meanwhile they learn. [Applause] “Children look at us”: this is the title of a 1943 film of Vittorio De Sica. Look for it. Look for it. “Children look at us.” And, between parenthesis, I would like to say that the Italian film of the post-War and a bit later was, generally, a true “catechesis” of humanity. I close the parenthesis. The children look at us, and you can’t imagine the anguish a child feels when the parents quarrel. They suffer! [Applause] And when parents separate, they pay the price. [Applause] When a child is brought into the world, you must be conscious of this: we take on the responsibility to make the faith grow in this child. It will help you very much to read the Exhortation Amoris laetitia, especially the first chapters on love, marriage, the fourth chapter, which is truly key. But don’t forget: when you quarrel, the children suffer and don’t grow in the faith. [Applause] Children know our joys, our sadness and worries. They are able to understand everything, they note everything and, given that they are very, very intuitive, they draw their conclusions and their teachings. They know when we set traps for them and when we don’t. They know it. They are very clever. Therefore, one of the first things that I will say to you is: take care of them; take care of their heart, of their joy and of their hope. Your children’s “little eyes” gradually memorize and read with the heart how faith is one of the best legacies that you have received from your parents and your ancestors. They realize it. And if you give the faith and live it well, there is transmission. Show them how the faith helps you to go on, to face the many dramas we have, not with a pessimistic but a confident attitude; this is the best witness we can give them. There is a saying: “The wind took away the words,” but what is sowed in the memory, in the heart, remains forever.2: Another thing – in different parts, , many families have a very beautiful tradition of going to Mass together and afterwards, they go to a park, they take the children to play together. Thus the faith becomes an exigency of the family with other families, with friends, family friends . . . This is good and it helps to live the Commandment to sanctify the feasts. Not only to go to church to pray or to sleep during the homily – it happens! –, not only, but then to go and play together. Now that the good days are beginning, for instance, on Sunday after having gone to Mass as a family, it is good if you can go to a park or Square to play, to be together a bit. In my land this is called “dominguear,” to spend Sunday together. However, our time is somewhat a bad time to do this, because so many parents, to feed their family, must also work on holidays. And this is awful. I always ask parents, when they tell me that they lose their patience with the children – I ask first: “But how many are they?” – “Three, four,” they say. And I ask them a second question: “Do you play with your children? … Do you play?” And they don’t know what to answer. In these times parents can’t, or they’ve lost the habit of playing with their children, of “losing [spending] time” with the children. A father once said to me: “Father, when I leave to go to work, they are still in bed, and when I return in the late evening, they are already in bed. I see them only on holidays. It’s awful. It’s this life that takes away one’s humanity! But keep this in mind: play with the children, “lose [spend] time” with the children and also transmit the faith. It’s gratuitousness, the gratuitousness of God.3: And one last thing: the family’s education in solidarity. This is to transmit the faith with education in solidarity, in the works of mercy. Works of mercy make faith grow in the heart. This is very important. I like to put the accent on celebration, on gratuitousness, on seeking other families and living the faith as an area of family enjoyment. I think it is also necessary to add another element. There is no celebration without solidarity, as there is no solidarity without celebration, because when one is supportive, one is joyful and transmits joy.I don’t want to bore you: I will tell you something that I learnt in Buenos Aires. It was lunchtime, a mother with three children – six, four and a half and three years old; then she had two more. Her husband was at work. They were at lunch and were in fact eating cutlets alla Milanese, yes, because she told me so, and each one of the children had one on his plate. Someone knocked at the door. The eldest one went, opened the door saw and returned and said: “Mother, it’s a poor man, he asks for something to eat.” And the wise mother asked the question: “What shall we do? Do we or do we not give?” – “Yes, Mother, let’s give, let’s give!” There were other cutlets there. The mother said: “Ah, very good: let‘s take two buns” each one cut his in half and we will have two buns” – “Mother, but there are those !” “No, those are for dinner.” And the mother taught them solidarity, but the kind that costs, not the one that ! This, for instance, would be enough, but it will make you laugh to know how the story ended. The week after, the mother had to go out to do the shopping, in the afternoon, about four o’clock, and she left the three children alone, they were good, for an hour or so. She left. When the mother returned, they weren’t three but four! There were the three children and a tramp [he laughs] who had asked for alms and they made him come in, and they were drinking a caffe latte together … But this is an end to laugh a bit . . . To educate in solidarity, namely, in the works of mercy. Thank you.*A Catechist’s QuestionGood evening, I am Valeria, mother and catechist of a parish of Milan at Rogoredo. You have taught us that to educate a youth there must be a village: our Archbishops has also spurred us these years to collaborate, so that there is collaboration between the educating figures. So we want to ask your advice, so that we can open ourselves to a dialogue and a discussion with all the educators that have something to do with our young people . . .Pope Francis:I would recommend an education based on thinking-feeling-doing, namely an education with the intellect, with the heart and with the hands — the three languages. Educate to harmony of the three languages, to the point that young people, boys and girls can think about what they feel and do, feel what they think and do and do what they think and feel. Do not separate the three things, but all three together. Do not educate only the intellect: this is to give intellectual notions, which are important, but without the heart and without the hands it’s of no use, no use. Education must be harmonious. However, one can also say: educate with contents, ideas, with attitudes of life and with values. It can also be said like this, but never educate only with notions, with ideas, for instance. No. The heart must also grow in education, and also “doing,” the attitude, the way of behaving in life.With reference to the previous point, I remember that once there was a pupil in a school who was a phenomenon at playing soccer, but a disaster in his conduct in the class. He was given a rule that, if he didn’t behave well he would have to abandon soccer, which he liked so much! Given that he continued to misbehave, he was two months without playing and this made things worse. Be careful when you punish: that boy worsened. It’s true, I knew this boy. One day the coach spoke with the Directress and he explained: “Things aren’t going well! Let me try,” he said to the Directress, and he asked if the boy could play again. “Let’s try,” said the lady. And the coach made captain of the team. Then that boy, that boy felt regarded, he felt he could give his best and he began, not only to behave better, but to improve in everything. This seems very important to me in education – very important. Among our students there are some who come for sports and not so much for the sciences and others are better in art rather than in mathematics, and others in philosophy than in sports. A good teacher, educator or coach knows how to stimulate the good qualities of his pupils and not neglect the others. And there is the pedagogical phenomenon that is called transfer: doing something good and pleasingly, the benefit is transferred to the other. To see where I give more responsibility, where one likes it more, and one will do well. And it is always good to stimulate, but children also have the need to enjoy themselves and to sleep. To educate only, without the area of gratuitousness isn’t good.And I end with this. There is an awful phenomenon in education in these times, which worries me” bullying. Please . . . [hint of applause] No, no! I haven’t finished yet. Please, for the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation, promise the Lord that you will never do this and never allow that it be done in your college, in your school, in your district. Understood?Young people: Yes! [Loud applause]Pope Francis: You promise me: never, never make fun of, never mock a school companion of the district . . . Do you promise this, today?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: The Pope isn’t happy with the answer . . . Do you promise this?Young people: [Very loudly] Yes!Pope Francis: Good. You have said this “yes” to the Pope. Now, in silence, think what an awful thing this is, and think if you are able to promise this to Jesus. Do you promise Jesus never to engage in bullying?Young people: Yes!Pope Francis: To Jesus.Young people: [Loudly] Yes!Pope Francis: Thank you. And may the Lord bless you! Congratulations to you [the youngsters who did the choreography in the field]: you were good!Let us pray together: Our Father . . . [Blessing]Pope Francis: Please, I ask you to pray for me. And before leaving, a question: with whom should we speak more at home?Young people: With grandparents!Pope Francis: Good! And you, parents, what must you do a bit more of with your children?Parents: Play!Pope Francis: Play. And you educators, how must you carry education forward, with what language? With that of the head, with that of the heart and with that of the hands!Thank you and farewell![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
Mar 29 17 1:54 AM
Pope Francis proposes a cure for populismLast Friday, twenty-seven heads of state gathered in Rome to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the treaty that established the European Economic Community, the progenitor of the European Union. Perhaps because of the setting, it seemed natural that Pope Francis should address them; he did so in the Sala Regia, the elegant barrel-vaulted hall adjacent to the Sistine Chapel. Francis is the beleaguered E.U.’s staunchest defender, and he rallied his audience by recalling the founders’ spirit. “In a world that was all too familiar with the tragedy of walls and divisions, it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe, and for the removal of the unnatural barrier that divided the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic,” he said. “What efforts were made to tear down that wall! Yet today the memory of those efforts has been lost.” Francis rattled off the economic, social, institutional, and humanitarian crises facing Europe, but he had no need to mention explicitly the most pressing crisis of all—Brexit, which comes to a head this week, as Prime Minister Theresa May (who was not in Rome) formally begins Britain’s withdrawal from the E.U.At the sound of the Pope’s impassioned voice, the more history-minded of his listeners might have sensed ghosts of papal assemblies past, especially one held nearly a millennium ago, not in a Renaissance palace but in a rough field in southern France. Back then, the brutal feuds of warring princes were laying Europe waste. The killing and pillaging had become savage enough to require a drastic intervention. At the Council of Clermont, in 1095, Pope Urban II addressed a crowd of prelates, knights, and nobles—the leaders of the Latin West. He wished to heal what he called “the great disorder” of a continent in deep conflict with itself, and the speech he gave is remembered for its success in doing that. Having just promulgated, at the Council, a historic Truce of God, which restricted combat between Christians to three days a week, Urban declared, “I exhort and demand that you, each, try hard to have the truce kept in your diocese. And if anyone shall be led by his cupidity or arrogance to break this truce, by the authority of God and with the sanction of this Council he shall be anathematized.”Urban sought to pacify the warring Frankish knights by uniting them against a common external enemy. “Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians,” he said. The contemporary echo comes, of course, in Urban’s having defined the barbarians as “the base and bastard Turks and Arabs”—the Muslim infidels who were besieging the Eastern Church and desecrating the Holy Land. The Pope’s followers, marking their tunics with “the horizontal-vertical sign,” set out on their Crusade, and with a cry of “God wills it!” set in motion part one, yes, of the clash of civilizations. In the next two hundred years, as the Crusades went on, a coalescing Europe found its point of unity in the holy war against Islam. Now, in the secular age, that holy war has been reignited, and, with the rise of a border-obsessed Islamophobia, Europe’s unity is threatened by its blowback. Still, the difference between Pope Urban II and Pope Francis could not be clearer.The resuscitation of Christendom is not on Francis’s bucket list. His concern is centered on human beings, not on members of any collective, whether religiously, ethnically, or nationally defined. From the start of his pontificate, Francis has been a stinging critic of the global “economy of exclusion and inequality,” so his denunciation of Euroskepticism cannot be taken as an unconscious alliance with global élites. On the contrary, in his remarks to Europe’s leaders, he called for a new solidarity, expansive and bold. Solidarity, he said, is “the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.” And because it is rooted in the communal human condition—for him, the idea that we are all God’s children—it is a better organizing principle than, for example, class struggle, which assumes a dialectic of exclusion. “Solidarity entails the awareness of being part of a single body,” Francis said. “When one suffers, all suffer.” It is bounded not by nation or class, much less gender or race or religion, but, in Francis’s phrase, by “a new European humanism,” which looks beyond “the triumph of particularisms.” He contrasted this with tribalism, with the fear that erects “false forms of security.”Such a vision transforms the meaning of what Francis sees as the continent’s single largest challenge: “the long file of women, men, and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones.” The migrant crisis, he said, is not “a mere numerical or economic problem, or a question of security.” Rather, it “poses a deeper question, one that is primarily cultural. What kind of culture does Europe propose today?” A commonwealth of nations, yes—but, with legions of dying people at its door, standing for what?The answer lies embedded in Europe’s own history. As Francis told the leaders, “We cannot understand our own times apart from the past, seen not as an assemblage of distant facts, but as the lymph that gives life to the present.” How resonant were such words, coming from that man, in that place. In truth, currents generated by his medieval predecessor, in the foundational era of the Crusades, flowed not only into sanctified violence and contempt for the other—evils we know too well. Equally consequential were the humane innovations that also followed in Europe: the Renaissance tie of faith to reason; the Reformation embrace of religious self-criticism; the Enlightenment elevation of the individual; modernity’s invention of democratic liberalism; the late-twentieth-century repudiation of interstate violence; the self-surpassing of nationalism into a larger political hope. All of this, too, is Europe, and now more than ever it deserves a stout defense.
Mar 30 17 2:57 AM
Mar 31 17 5:52 AM
Pope Francis: Dublin meeting will take a deep dive into "Amoris Laetitia" [and not just Chapter 8]Pope Francis has announced that the 9th World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 21 to 26, 2018. In the letter of convocation for the meeting addressed to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Pope Francis emphasized that the family continues to be “good news for today’s world” because it is based on God’s plan for humanity.The world meeting will focus on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: joy for the world,” he said, and will seek to deepen the reflection and share the content of his post-synod exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”The family is God’s “yes” to “the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life in all its phases,” the pope said, and it is God’s “commitment to a humanity that is often wounded, mistreated and dominated by a lack of love.”It is only by “starting from love,” he said, that the family “can manifest, spread and regenerate God’s love in the world. Without love, we cannot live as children of God, as couples, parents and brothers.”Cardinal Farrell and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin presented the pope’s letter at a Vatican press conference on March 30. Cardinal Farrell’s dicastery will be responsible for the international organization of the event, together with the Dublin archdiocese, which is hosting it.Both the cardinal and the archbishop highlighted the fact that Francis speaks again of his dream for the church in his letter. Archbishop Martin said its “innovative” element is “the emphasis on the central place that the family is called to play in realizing this great dream of renewal of the pope.”Echoing what he said in his address to the cardinals at the pre-conclave meeting, Pope Francis writes: “I dream of an outbound church, not a self-referential one, a church that does not pass by far from man’s wounds, a merciful church that proclaims the heart of the revelation of God as Love, which is Mercy.”The pope continues, “It is this very mercy that makes us new in love; and we know how much Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy and even more so after the extraordinary Jubilee.” He expressed confidence that the Dublin meeting “will able to offer concrete signs of this,” and he invited all the church to keep all this in mind as it prepares for that great international event.Francis asked Cardinal Farrell and his collaborators to prepare for that meeting by “translating in a special way the teaching of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ with which the church wishes families always to be in step, in that inner pilgrimage that is the manifestation of authentic life.”Cardinal Farrell said that while there has been much media attention on Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia,” which touched on the controversial subject of a return to sacramental life for men and women in irregular unions, the Dublin meeting will focus especially on other chapters of that text.Archbishop Martin said the Dublin meeting will be “a moment in which the entire church can deepen its reflection on the teaching of ‘Amoris Laetitia’; it is a moment in which the daily love of husbands and wives and the daily love of parents for their children can be recognized as a fundamental resource for the renewal of the church and of society.“The church must be a place where those who have failed can experience not harsh judgment but the strong embrace of the Lord which can lift them up to begin again to realize their own dream even if only imperfectly,” the archbishop said.He announced that the Dublin world meeting will be prepared by “an extensive catechesis on the meaning of conjugal and family love and on the role of the family in society.”It will be “a moment of renewal for the church in Ireland with wide involvement of lay faithful” and “a moment in which the role of the family can be understood in greater depth.” It will also be an opportunity for families to “regain confidence in carrying out their mission in the context of a church which is merciful and which accompanies them in the ups-and-downs of their lives.”Following the normal practice, the Vatican has not yet confirmed that Pope Francis will attend, but Archbishop Martin revealed that the pope had told him of his “desire” to be there. If he does attend the world meeting, Francis will be only the second pope to visit Ireland, once known as “the land of saints and scholars.”John Paul II was the first pope to visit the emerald isle. He went there in 1979 and was given a tremendous welcome, but Archbishop Martin said the country has experienced enormous changes since then. The sexual abuse of children by priests and religious has taken a heavy toll on the church and the faith of the Irish people and, he said, “it was felt most deeply in families.”Today, Ireland is “a modern society” with “its mix of secularization and faith,” Archbishop Martin said, allowing that it will be a great challenge to organize this major world event. But he believes it will be worth the effort when one remembers “how important the family is for the future of Ireland and of the wider society, especially in Europe.”Pope Francis, who is highly esteemed and loved in Ireland, is also well aware what holding such a meeting in Dublin signifies for the Irish people and the Irish church at this moment in history. In his letter, he hinted at this when he wrote, “my thoughts go in a special way to the archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event.”He prayed that it would bring them “abundant heavenly favors.”
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