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Pope encourages Methodists and Waldensians to walk path to full Christian unity

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Methodist and Waldensian Churches to continue to walk together with the Catholic Church on the path towards full Christian unity pointing out that in a world lacerated by violence and fear it is all the more important to live and to convey the Christian message of welcome and fraternity.  

The Pope’s words of friendship and closeness came in a message on Monday to the annual Synod of the Italian Methodist and Waldensian Churches taking place in Torre Pellice - near Turin - from 20 to 25 August.

Recalling recent encounters between the Churches and a shared celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the Pope said “May Jesus’ gaze brighten our relationship so that it is never just formal or proper, but fraternal and lively.”

“The Good Shepherd – he continued – wants us to walk together and his gaze embraces all of his disciples whom He wants to see fully united”.

Francis also said that to walk towards full unity with the hope that derives from the knowledge that God’s presence is stronger than evil, is all the more important today, “in a world scarred by violence and fear, by wounds and indifference, in which the egoism of self-affirmation to the detriment of others overshadows the simple beauty of welcome, sharing and loving”.

“Our Christian witness, he said, must not yield to the logic of the world: let’s help each other to choose and live the logic of Christ.”

At the Synod some 180 representatives of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches – both pastors and lay people in equal number – will be deciding on Church programmes for the coming year, and will be electing their executive and administrative bodies.

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 1:54 pm

Cardinal Pietro Parolin on goals of 4-day Russia visit

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who is on a 4-day visit to Russia, gave a wide-ranging interview with the Russian state news agency TASS, ahead of his arrival on Monday.

Cardinal Parolin speaks at length about the aims of his visit to Moscow and gives his views on various international issues. 

Please find below a full transcript in English of the interview with Cardinal Parolin:

Q: Your Eminence, this is the first time you come to Russia as the Cardinal Secretary of State. What is on the agenda of your visit? Are you going to meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and President Vladimir Putin? You act simultaneously in two capacities – as a high-ranking representative of the Roman Catholic Church and as the head of the Holy See’s government. How would you describe the contacts between Catholics and Orthodox believers, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as relations between Vatican and Russia?

R: We have been working on the idea of the visit to Russia for a long time, and it will take place from August 20 to 24. The meeting with President Putin is scheduled for August 23. A day earlier, I will have a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On August 21, I will meet with Catholic bishops of Russia and on the same evening I will serve a liturgy for the Catholic community of Moscow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary.

I will also meet with Patriarch Kirill and have a conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. As you correctly noted, the Holy See simultaneously performs both a spiritual and a diplomatic role. That is why the Vatican diplomacy is of special nature. It does not rely on any other force, except for taking care of every person and every nation through dialogue. Taking into account these very aspects, I will discuss with my Russian dialogue partners the issues which are of mutual interest for us, as well as crises in different parts of the world, which are both distant and very near. The conversation with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church proves the openness that emerged in recent years and was marked by the historic meeting in Havana last year. Then Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill spoke of rapprochement as a shared path. When we walk this path together and conduct fraternal dialogue, we can feel the moments of unity. This path requires the search for truth, as well as love, patience, persistence and determination.

Q: Did the historic meeting in Havana of Pope Francis and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill give an impetus to a better understanding? What are the future steps to develop the ecumenical dialogue and the prospects for an even closer rapprochement between the two (Christian) Churches?

R: That meeting was the first step that had been expected for a long time. Not only it strengthened the contacts of the representatives of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which became more frequent and filled with concrete content, but also prompted the two churches to look at the discrepancies we had in the past and their causes in a new way. Although the negative effect of those differences can still be felt now, the meeting also helped us see the unity we are striving for, the unity which is required by the Gospels we profess. It is very important that we have this renewed mutual positive view that every servant of the God, priest and believer will share. This is the condition, in my opinion, for the fulfillment of new and, I would say, unprecedented steps in the development of the ecumenical dialogue and the rapprochement of our Churches, the steps that the Holy Spirit will hint to those who listen carefully to his voice.

Q: Millions of believers in Russia had an opportunity to venerate relics of St. Nicholas, which had been brought for the purpose from the city of Bari to Moscow and St. Petersburg. This was one of the practical results of that landmark meeting. What is the significance of bringing such a revered Christian relic to Russia?

R: I know that the relics of St. Nicholas were received in Russia with a special spiritual uplift, and that for more than two months an impressive number of clergymen and believers in Moscow and St. Petersburg venerated the relics. There is no doubt that this event and other similar initiatives, which can be called the "ecumenism of the saints", give an opportunity to fully feel what already unites Christians. This was not only an important event in the spiritual life of believers, but also an example for other initiatives that strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation in various fields. At the same time, a new impetus was given to dialogue on more complex issues in church relations, as well as to dialogue between churches and society on spiritual, cultural and political issues of our time.

Q: Both our churches, Catholic and Orthodox, now face the danger of losing traditional Christian values. What can be done to preserve them? Russia in this sense is widely regarded as the last stronghold of those values, for example, such as traditional family values. On the other hand, it's no secret that our country is often criticized in Europe for the lack of liberalism and rejection of relations between people of nonstandard sexual orientation. Is it possible today to ensure that traditional values ​​are not in conflict with modern vision of democracy?

R: Today, there is no shortage of challenges that the modern world produces. It is not only about preserving values but the very concept of human personality and human dignity. Showing respect to a human being and his work, social justice, interpersonal relations and interaction between different states – these are all challenges of a peaceful existence. As we face these challenges, our task remains the same as St. Peter defined it in his First Epistle General:

“But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to articulate a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But respond with genetleness and respect.” (Peter 3:15)

When the churches insist on following the evangelical message and respecting the values ​​established in the Holy Scripture, they do so not to humiliate a modern person or to put unnecessary pressure on him but to show the path to salvation and fulfillment. When performing this mission, which never ends, it is extremely important to establish effective cooperation between different religious denominations. It is also important because, as you noted, the challenges Christians are facing in the West and in Eastern Europe are seen from different angles. Greater mutual understanding between the Churches, exchange of experience in different regions, may become an important contribution to understanding of these problems. It is always useful to learn a different vision, so to speak, a look from beyond, in order to have the most complete picture of reality, less prone to the trends that gradually become very common.

Q: Another serious threat of the present day is the Islamic terrorism, which makes no difference between peoples and religions. How can this phenomenon be defeated and how does the Holy See views Russia’s counter-terrorism efforts?

R: I can see at least two aspects in this matter. On the one hand, there are steps made by this or that government, which are often dictated by concrete situations. When one faces a situation of this kind, one has to make a certain choice based on the politicians’ assessments. No doubt, the need to tackle terrorism is evident for the Church, but all actions must be weighted in order to prevent a situation in which the use of force would trigger spiraling violence or lead to violations of human rights, including the freedom of religion.

On the other hand, the Church is always guided by the long-term perspective. First of all, it is the encouragement and assistance in personal development, especially among the young generations, as well as solid dialogue between religions. During the past decades, the Holy See has been making all possible efforts to establish, strengthen or restore dialogue on the cultural and religious levels and in the social and humanitarian sphere. I’m absolutely convinced that life under the guidance of the Gospel would in itself make an important contribution into forming the society and culture, which simultaneously assists personal development and encourages an intense and constructive dialogue with other authentic cultures and religions.

Q: At the moment, the whole world has its eyes set on US President Donald Trump, who has been making rather controversial decisions during his first months of office, starting from his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change. It turned out that even a meeting with Pope Francis, who pays great attention to the climate change problem, could not change his mind. Of course, you have plenty of information about the United States, a country that plays a very important role in the modern world. What can be expected and what does Vatican expect from the current US president?

R: The meeting between the Pope and President Trump (in late May - TASS) was held in the atmosphere of mutual respect and I would say, with mutual sincerity. Both the Pontiff and the US leader were able to share their visions on numerous issues, including the climate change problem. I hope that despite the determination to fulfill the electoral promises and despite Washington’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord, pragmatic approaches will prevail, in continuation to the US administration’s decision to keep the climate change discussion running. We, in our turn, can only wish that President Trump, just like other members of the international community, does not neglect the extremely difficult task of tackling the global warming and its negative consequences that affect the global population, in particular spurring the growth of inequality and poverty.

In my opinion, modern international relations are becoming increasingly dominated by the understanding that policies and strategies based on open clashes and confrontations, with I would describe as a dialogue of the deaf, or, worse, (policies that) fuel fears and are based on intimidation with nuclear or chemical weapons, do not lead to correct solutions and fail to ease tensions between states. It has to be noted, as Pope Francis often says, that building peace is a path, which is a lot thornier than war and conflict. Building peace requires a patient and constructive dialogue with mutual respect instead of focusing all attention to own national interests. This is all that is expected from the leaders of global powers.

Q: Before Pope Francis appointed you to your current post, you have spent several years of diplomatic service as the Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) in Venezuela. What is Vatican’s opinion of the situation in this Latin American country?

A.: I’m seriously concerned by the situation in Venezuela, a country which is dear to my heart and where I have many friends. As I have already said on numerous occasions, the Holy See has closely followed the development of the Venezuelan crisis from its very outset and made numerous attempts aimed at searching for a peaceful and democratic solution, despite lots of differences that still remain. As far as prospects for reconciliation are concerned, I think that there is always only one way: it is necessary to negotiate, to create the atmosphere of trust and at the same time avoid steps that may aggravate tensions and incite new clashes. One should treat opponents with respect, conduct a serious dialogue, observe the principles of democracy and respect justice. One also needs to stay focused and determined in fulfilling the reached agreements, viewing the well-being of the people, who have many needs, as an utmost priority. The country is hit by a serious humanitarian crisis, and people are dying due to lack of food and medicine, and this should not be forgotten or treated as a secondary problem. I would also like to add that the international community, including nations that have friendly ties with Venezuela, have great responsibilities and should offer selfless assistance aimed at facilitating a positive solution for the current situation.

Interviewed by Vera Shcherbakova (Vatican).

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:35 pm

Pope Francis calls for a shared response to challenge of contemporary migration

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees was released on Monday under the title, “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. In the message the Pope calls for a shared response to the challenges of contemporary migration, adding that "in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable."

Listen to our report:

 

Shared response

In the message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees the Pope says that “The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solidarity, he adds, “must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.”  

Pope Francis goes on to say that this is a great responsibility, which “the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.

Pope Francis sums up that shared response in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.

Welcoming, explains the Holy Father means, “above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This, he says, calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.”  The Pope also emphasises the importance of “offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.”

Protecting migrants

The second verb, protecting Pope Francis continues “may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status. When duly recognised and valued, the Pope says, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.”

Speaking about the third verb Promoting, the Holy Father notes that “many migrants and refugees have abilities, such as their ability to work. He goes on to encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship.

With regard to integration, the Pope comments that integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, he adds, “contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.”

Global  Contribution 

Concluding the message the Holy Father underlines that the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed. Yet, he stresses, “in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities.

Pope Francis also invites the faithful to play their part in the process leading to the approval of the two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants.

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:28 pm

Pope's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees is released

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis' message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was released by the Vatican on Monday.

In the message the Holy Father says that providing aid to migrants and refugees is a "great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities."

Please find below the Message of  Pope Francis for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

“Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees”

Dear brothers and sisters!

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Throughout the first years of my pontificate, I have repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty.  This situation is undoubtedly a “sign of the times” which I have tried to interpret, with the help of the Holy Spirit, ever since my visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013.  When I instituted the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, I wanted a particular section – under my personal direction for the time being – to express the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).  The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.[1] This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.  This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.

In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.[2]

Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.  At the same time, I hope that a greater number of countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programmes, and open humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees.  Furthermore, special temporary visas should be granted to people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring countries.  Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.[3]  Once again, I want to emphasise the importance of offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.  “More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success”.[4]  The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI,[5] obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.  It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.  The situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services.  For the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.[6]

The second verb – protecting – may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.[7]  Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices.[8]  This must be ongoing, as far as possible, in the country of migration, guaranteeing them adequate consular assistance, the right to personally retain their documents of identification at all times, fair access to justice, the possibility of opening a personal bank account, and a minimum sufficient to live on.  When duly recognised and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.[9]  This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity.  For those who decide to return to their homeland, I want to emphasise the need to develop social and professional reintegration programmes.  The International Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a universal legal basis for the protection of underage migrants.  They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education.  Equally, when they come of age they must be guaranteed the right to remain and to enjoy the possibility of continuing their studies.  Temporary custody or foster programmes should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families.[10]  The universal right to a nationality should be recognised and duly certified for all children at birth.  The statelessness which migrants and refugees sometimes fall into can easily be avoided with the adoption of “nationality legislation that is in conformity with the fundamental principles of international law”.[11]  Migratory status should not limit access to national healthcare and pension plans, nor affect the transfer of their contributions if repatriated.

Promoting essentially means a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.[12]  Among these, we must recognize the true value of the religious dimension, ensuring to all foreigners in any country the freedom of religious belief and practice.   Many migrants and refugees have abilities which must be appropriately recognised and valued.  Since “work, by its nature, is meant to unite peoples”,[13] I encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship, together with sufficient information provided in their mother tongue.  In the case of underage migrants, their involvement in labour must be regulated to prevent exploitation and risks to their normal growth and development.  In 2006, Benedict XVI highlighted how, in the context of migration, the family is “a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values”.[14]  The family’s integrity must always be promoted, supporting family reunifications – including grandparents, grandchildren and siblings – independent of financial requirements.  Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities must be granted greater assistance and support.  While I recognize the praiseworthy efforts, thus far, of many countries, in terms of international cooperation and humanitarian aid, I hope that the offering of this assistance will take into account the needs (such as medical and social assistance, as well as education) of developing countries which receive a significant influx of migrants and refugees.  I also hope that local communities which are vulnerable and facing material hardship, will be included among aid beneficiaries.[15]

The final verb – integrating – concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees.  Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.  This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”.[16]  This process can be accelerated by granting citizenship free of financial or linguistic requirements, and by offering the possibility of special legalisation to migrants who can claim a long period of residence in the country of arrival.  I reiterate the need to foster a culture of encounter in every way possible – by increasing opportunities for intercultural exchange, documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, and developing programmes to prepare local communities for integration processes.   I wish to stress the special case of people forced to abandon their country of arrival due to a humanitarian crisis.  These people must be ensured adequate assistance for repatriation and effective reintegration programmes in their home countries.

In line with her pastoral tradition, the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed above.  Yet in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities.

At the United Nations Summit held in New York on 29 September 2016, world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights, sharing this responsibility on a global level.  To this end, the states committed themselves to drafting and approving, before the end of 2018, two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants.

Dear brothers and sisters, in light of these processes currently underway, the coming months offer a unique opportunity to advocate and support the concrete actions which I have described with four verbs.  I invite you, therefore, to use every occasion to share this message with all political and social actors involved (or who seek to be involved) in the process which will lead to the approval of the two Global Compacts.

Today, 15 August, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  The Holy Mother of God herself experienced the hardship of exile (Matthew 2:13-15), lovingly accompanied her Son’s journey to Calvary, and now shares eternally his glory.  To her maternal intercession we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them, so that, responding to the Lord’s supreme commandment, we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.

Vatican City, 15 August 2017

Solemnity of the Assumption of the B.V. Mary

[1] Cf. Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, Titulus Primus, I.

[2] Address to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017.

[3] Cf. Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 103rd Session of the Council of the IOM, 26 November 2013.

[4] Address to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017.

[5] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 47.

[6] Cf.  Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 20th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 22 June 2012.

[7] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 62.

[8] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, 6.

[9] Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the 6th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, 9 November 2009.

[10] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2010) and Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the 26th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council on the Human Rights of Migrants, 13 June 2014.

[11] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons, 2013, 70.

[12] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 14.

[13] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 27.

[14] Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2007).

[15] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons, 2013, 30-31.

[16] John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2005).

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:14 pm

Pope condemns “inhuman violence” of recent terror attacks

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his sorrow for a series of deadly terror attacks in recent days and condemned the “inhuman violence” that spawned them. His remarks came after his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. 

Please see below a translation into English of the Pope’s remarks after the Angelus prayer:

“We carry in our hearts the pain over the terroristic attacks in recent days that have claimed numerous victims in Burkina Faso, in Spain and in Finland.” Let us pray for those who died, for the wounded and for their families and let us implore the Lord, the God of mercy and of peace, to free the world from this inhuman violence.”

 

Earlier before the recitation of the Marian prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading where Jesus healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, describing the mother as an example of perseverance and having a “courageous and unshakable faith.”

The Pope said this Gospel reading from Matthew gives us an unusual example of faith in Jesus coming from a Canaanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter saying she is “tormented by a devil.”

The (initial) apparent lack of response from Jesus, said the Pope, “does not discourage this courageous woman who persists in her plea.” He went on to explain that “the inner strength of this woman which enables her to overcome every obstacle” springs from “her maternal love and her faith that Jesus can grant her request.”

This account, the Pope continued, “makes me think about the strength of women” who “with their strength are able to obtain great things.”

Faced with her persistence, in the end Jesus is struck “by the faith of this pagan woman” said the Pope, and tells the mother her desire is granted and so her daughter is healed.

This Gospel reading, he continued, “helps us to understand that all of us need to grow in our faith and strengthen our faith in Jesus.”

“He can help us to rediscover the way when we have lost our bearings”, when the road forward appears uphill and "arduous" and when “it is difficult to remain faithful to our duties.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflections by stressing the importance of “nourishing our faith each day by listening carefully to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments and with “our personal prayer like a ‘cry’ towards Him, and with concrete acts of charity towards our neighbour.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 20 August 2017 | 12:39 pm

Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Posted on 15 August 2017 | 2:04 pm



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