Pope Francis' Talks October 2015

 

 

Pope’s Address to Comboni Missionaries: “I Have Always, Always Had Great Admiration for You”

Francis Considers Their Call to Mission and Devotion to Sacred Heart

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 01, 2015

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today to participants in the General Chapter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus.

* * *

I greet you cordially, beginning with the Superior General. This [meeting] takes place in the context of your General Chapter and it offers me the occasion to express to you and to the entire Institute the gratitude of the Church for your generous service to the Gospel.

You call yourselves and you are! Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. I would like to reflect on these words with you, which are your name and your identity.

Missionaries. You are servants and messengers of the Gospel, especially for those who do not know it or who have forgotten it. There is a gift at the origin of your mission: it is the free initiative of the love of God who has addressed a double call to you: to be with Him and to go and preach (cf. Mark 3:14). At the base of everything is the personal relation with Christ, rooted in Baptism and, for some, reinforced by Ordination, so that with the Apostle Paul we can say: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This living with Christ determines all our being and all our acting, and it is lived and nourished above all in prayer, in staying close to the Lord, in Adoration, in a heart to heart conversation with Him.

It is in fact in this praying space that the true “treasure” is found (Luke 12:34), which is to be given to brothers through the proclamation. The missionary, in fact, makes himself servant of the God-that-speaks, who wants to speak to the men and women of today, as Jesus spoke to those of his time, and he won the heart of the people who came from everywhere to hear him (cf. Mark 1:45), and who marvelled hearing his teachings (cf. Mark 6:2). This relation of the mission ad gentes with the Word of God is not so much in the order of “doing” as in that of “being.” To be genuine, the mission must refer to and put at the center the grace of Christ that flows from the Cross: believing in Him one can transmit the Word of God, which encourages, sustains and makes fruitful the missionary’s commitment. Therefore, dear Brothers, we must always nourish ourselves with the World of God, to be its faithful echo; to receive it with the joy of the Spirit, to internalize it and make it flesh of our flesh as Mary did (cf. Luke 2:19). In the Word of God there is wisdom that comes from above, and which enables one to find languages, attitudes, and appropriate instruments to respond to the challenges of a changing humanity.

In as much as you are Comboni [Missionaries] of the Heart of Jesus, you contribute joyfully to the mission of the Church, witnessing the charism of Saint Daniel Comboni, which finds a qualifying point in the merciful love of the Heart of Christ for vulnerable men. In this Heart is the source of mercy that saves and generates hope. Therefore, as consecrated [persons] to God for the mission, you are called to imitate the merciful and meek Jesus, to live your service with a humble heart, taking care of the most abandoned of our time. Do not cease to ask the Sacred Heart for the meekness that, as a daughter of charity, is patient, excuses everything, hopes for everything, endures everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). It is the meekness of Jesus’ glance when he looked at Peter on the night of Holy Thursday (cf. Luke 22:61), or when he invited the incredulous Thomas to put his hand near his pierced Heart (cf. John 20:27). There, in that heart, one learns the necessary meekness to address apostolic action also in difficult and hostile contexts.

That Heart, which has so loved men, drives you to the fringes of society to witness the perseverance of patient and faithful love. From contemplation of the wounded Heart of Jesus the passion can be renewed in you for the men of our time, which is expressed with free love in the commitment of solidarity, especially towards the weakest and the poor. Thus you will be able to continue to promote justice and peace, respect and dignity for every person.

Dear Brothers, I hope that the deepened reflection on the topics of the Chapter, to which you dedicated yourselves during these days, will illumine the path of your Institute in the coming years, helping you to rediscover always better your great patrimony of spirituality and missionary activity. Thus you will be able to continue with confidence your appreciated collaboration in the mission of the Church. May the example of so many fellow Brothers, who offered their life for the cause of the Gospel, prepared to give the supreme witness of blood, be of stimulus and encouragement to you. Noted, in fact, is that the history of the Comboni Institute is marked by an uninterrupted chain of martyrs, which comes down to our days. They are fecund seeds in the spread of the Kingdom and protectors of your apostolic commitment.

I invoke upon you and upon all the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of missionaries.

And before imparting the blessing, I would like to say something that is not written here, but it is something I feel: I have always, always had great admiration for you, for the work you do, for the risks you face ... I have always felt this great admiration. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope’s Morning Homily: ‘Listen and Respect Your Guardian Angel’

Celebrates Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Rome, October 02, 2015

God has given each one of us a guardian angel that we are called to respect and listen. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope, who celebrated the memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels, reflected on their role in the lives of the faithful. God, he said, gives each one of us an angel to accompany us who serves as “God’s ambassador.”

“When we - for example - do something bad and we think we are alone, there he is,” the Pope said Have respect for his presence. Listen to his voice, because he counsels us. When we feel that inspiration: ‘But do this...this is better...you shouldn’t do this…’ Listen! Don’t rebel against him.”

Guardian angels, he continued, are meant to counsel us as a friend, especially in difficult moments of trial or sin.

“A friend that we do not see, but that we feel,” he said. “A friend who one day will be with us in Heaven, in the eternal joy.”

“He only asks us  to listen to him, to respect him. Only this: respect and listen. And this respecting and listening to this companion on the road is called docility. A Christian should be docile to the Holy Spirit. Docility to the Holy Spirit begins with this docility to the counsel of this companion.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on those present to ask God for the grace of docility to be able to listen to the counsel of our angelic companions. Through them, Christ “does not leave us alone, he does not abandon us,” he said.

------------------------------------------------------

Pope’s Homily at Mass with Vatican Gendarmerie

“One cannot dialogue with the devil, and this helps so much when temptation comes: I won’t speak with you; only the Word of the Lord.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 05, 2015

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis presided over a Mass in the Chapel of the Governorate for the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State, on the occasion of the feast of its Patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, September 29.

Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily in the course of the Holy Mass.

* * *

The First Reading, taken from Revelation, begins with a strong word: ”War broke out in Heaven.” And then it says how this war is: it is the final war, the last war, the war of the end. It is the war between the Angels of God commanded by Saint Michael against Satan, the ancient serpent, the devil. This is the last one and everything ends there, only the Lord’s eternal peace remains with all his children who were faithful. However, throughout history this war has been waged every day, every day: it is waged in the heart of men and women, in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians. It is the war between good and evil, where we must choose what we want, good or evil. But the method of war, the methods of war of these two enemies are totally opposite.

In the initial prayer, in the Collect, we asked to be defended by the Archangel Michael against the “snares” of the demon, of the devil. And snares are one of the methods of the devil. He is a sower of snares, a seed of life never falls from his hands, a seed of unity – always snares, snares: it is his method, to sow snares. We pray to the Lord to protect us from this.

Then, in the First Reading, we heard about another method, another way of waging war, Satan who seduces. He is a seducer; he is one that sows snares and a seducer, and he seduces with fascination, with demonic fascination, leading one to believe everything. He knows how to sell with this fascination, he sells well, but in the end he pays badly! It is his method. We think of the first time that this lord appears in the Gospel; it is a dialogue with Jesus. Jesus was praying for forty days in the desert, fasting, and in the end he is rather tired and hungry. And [Satan} comes; he moves slowly as a serpent, and makes three proposals to Jesus: “If you are God, the Son of God, there are stones there, if you are hungry, make them be turn into bread”; “If you are the Son of God, why are you so tired? Come with me to the terrace of the Temple and throw yourself down, and people will see this miracle and without effort you will be recognized as the Son of God”; the devil tries to seduce him and, in the end, as he does not succeed in seducing him, the last [proposal]: “Let’s speak clearly, I will give you all the power of the world, but you must adore me. Let’s do business.”

[These are] the three steps of the method of the ancient serpent, of the demon: first, to have things, in this case bread, riches, riches that slowly lead one to corruption, and this issue of corruption is not a fairy tale! It is everywhere. Corruption is everywhere: many people sell their soul, sell their happiness, sell their life, sell everything for two cents. It is the first step: cents, riches. Then, when they have it, they feel important. The second step: vanity. What the devil said to Jesus: “Let’s go on the terrace of the Temple, throw yourself down, and make a great spectacle!” -- to live for vanity. The third step: power, pride, arrogance: ”I will give you all the power of the world; you will be the one who commands.”

This always happens to us all in small things: we are too attached to riches, we are pleased when we are praised, like the peacock. And so many people become ridiculous, so many people. Vanity makes one become ridiculous. Or, in the end, when one has power, one thinks one is God, and this is the great sin.

This is our struggle, and therefore today we ask the Lord that, through the intercession of the Archangel Michael, we are defended from the snares, the fascination, the seductions of this ancient serpent who is called Satan.

You who work, who have a job that is a bit difficult, where there is always opposition and you must put things right and many times avoid offenses and crimes. Pray a lot so that, with the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel, the Lord will defend you from every temptation, from every temptation to corruption for money, for riches, [temptation] to vanity and to arrogance. And, like Jesus, the more humble, the more humble your service is, the more fruitful and the more useful it will be for us all.

The humility of Jesus and, how do we see Jesus’ humility – and I end with this not to be too long – how do we see Jesus’ humility? If we go to the account of the temptation of Jesus, we never find a word of his. Jesus does not answer with his own words; he answers with the words of Scripture, all three times. It is what he teaches us. One cannot dialogue with the devil, and this helps so much when temptation comes: I won’t speak with you; only the Word of the Lord.

May the Lord help us in this struggle of every day, but not for ourselves; it is a struggle for service, because you are men and women of service: of service to society, of service to others, of service to make goodness grow in the world.

[Original text: Italian]

-------------------------------------------------

Pope Francis’ Address to Members of Food Bank Foundation

“Hunger today is a matter of truly “scandalous” dimensions, which threatens the life and dignity of many persons – men, women, children and elderly."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 05, 2015

On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Meeting organized by the Food Bank Foundation. Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I am happy to meet with you, all of you, associations and individuals that collaborate in this significant “network of charity” called the Food Bank Foundation. I also greet those who are following this meeting from Saint Peter’s Square. For 25 years you have been committed, as volunteers, on the front of poverty. In particular, your preoccupation is that of opposing the waste of food, to recover it and distribute it to families in difficulty and to indigent persons. I thank you for what you do and I encourage you to continue on this path.

Hunger today is a matter of truly “scandalous” dimensions, which threatens the life and dignity of many persons – men, women, children and elderly. Every day we must address this injustice, I go further, with this sin, in a world rich in food resources, thanks also to the enormous technological progresses, too many are those that do not have the necessary to survive; and this not only in poor countries, but increasingly in rich and developed societies. The situation is aggravated by the increase in migratory flows, which bring to Europe thousands of refugees, fleeing from their countries and in need of everything. Jesus’ words resound in face of such an immeasurable problem: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat” (Matthew 25:35)). In the Gospel we see that, when the Lord realizes that the crowds that have come to listen to him are hungry, he does not ignore the problem, nor does he give a good discourse on the fight against poverty, but he carries out a gesture that leaves everyone astonished: he takes the few [loaves] that the disciples have brought with them, blesses them and multiplies the loaves and fishes, so much so that at the end “they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over” (Matthew 14:20-21).

We cannot work a miracle as Jesus did; however, we can do something in face of the emergency of hunger, something humble, but which has the force of a miracle. First of all, we can educate ourselves to humanity, to recognize the humanity present in every person, in need of everything. Perhaps Danilo Fossati was thinking of this, entrepreneur of the food sector and founder of the Food Bank, when he confided to Don Giussani his uneasiness in face of the destruction of products that were still edible, on seeing how many in Italy suffered hunger. Don Giussani was struck and said: “Seldom have I come across a powerful [person] that would choose to give without asking anything in return and I have never known one that gave without wanting to appear ... The Bank was his work – never publicly, always on tiptoes, he followed it from its birth.”

Your initiative, which is celebrating 25 years, has its root in the hearts of these two men, who did not remain indifferent  to the cry of the poor. And they understood that something had to change in people’s mentality, that the walls of individualism and of egoism had to be brought down. Continue this work with confidence, activating the culture of encounter and sharing. Your contribution might certainly seem to be a drop in the sea of need, but in reality it is precious! Together with you, others want to work, and this enlarges the river that nourishes the hope of millions of people.

It is Jesus himself who invites us to make room in our heart for the urgency “to give the hungry to eat,” and the Church has made it one of the works of corporal mercy. To share what we have with those who do not have the means to satisfy such a primary need, educates us to that charity that is an overflowing gift of passion for the life of the poor that the Lord makes us meet.

In sharing the necessity of daily bread, you meet every day hundreds of people. Do not forget that they are persons, not numbers, each one with his burden of pain that at times seems impossible to carry. By having this always present, you will be able to look at them in the face, to look at them in their eyes, to shake their hand, to see in them the flesh of Christ and to help them also to win back their dignity and to stand up again. I encourage you to be brothers and friends of the poor, and to make them feel that they are important in God’s eyes. May the difficulties that you surely meet not discourage you; rather, may they induce you to always support one another more, competing in active charity.

May Our Lady, Mother of Charity, protect you. I accompany you with my blessing. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you!

Let us, all together, pray to Our Lady. And I suggest something to you: in praying to Our Lady and in receiving the blessing, think of a person, of two or three that we know, who are hungry and are in need of daily bread. Let us not think of ourselves, and pray to Our Lady for them. May the Lord bless them.

Ave Maria ...

[Original text: Italian]

--------------------------------------------------------------

Pope’s Morning Homily: Stubbornness Can Stifle Mercy

Says Hardened Hearts Does Not Allow God’s Mercy to Enter During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Rome, October 06, 2015

“Where there is God, there is mercy.” This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during morning Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope drew his homily from today’s first reading which recalled the conversion of the city of Nineveh after listening to the preaching of the prophet Jonah.

Noting Jonah’s initial hesitance to preaching in God’s name, the Pope said that it was a miracle that he set aside his stubbornness and obeyed God’s will.

However, following their conversion, Jonah is angered that God forgives the people of Nineveh. The prophet, the Pope said, is “a man who is not docile to the spirit of God.” If one’s heart is hard, he said, “there is resistance to the mercy of God.”

“Those words: “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? Because You are a merciful and gracious God’, and I did all the work to preach, I have done my job well, and you forgive them? It is a heart with that hardness that does not allow the mercy of God to enter. My preaching is more important, my thoughts are more important, that whole list of commandments that I must observe are more important,” the Pope said.

The Holy Father also noted that Jesus also faced the same criticism from the Pharisees.

“Jesus as well lived this drama with the Doctors of the Law, who did not understand why He did not let them stone the adulterous woman, why He went to dine with publicans and sinners: they did not understand. They did not understand mercy.

The 78 year old Pontiff also noted that today’s Psalm is an invitation to wait for the Lord because there, one finds mercy.

“Where the Lord is, there is mercy,” he said. “And St. Ambrose would add: ‘And where there is rigidity there are his ministers’. The stubbornness that challenges the mission, that challenges mercy.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of the coming Jubilee Year of Mercy, as well as inviting them to pray in order to understand what mercy is and to reflect on God’s words: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice!”

-------------------------------------------------------

Pope Francis' Homily at Opening Mass of Ordinary General Assembly of Synod on the Family

'This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.'

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 04, 2015

At 10 am today, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Pope Francis presided at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the opening of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: 'The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.'Below is the Vatican-provided translation of the homily Pope Francis delivered during the Mass:

***

 “If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration. The readings centre on three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden.  He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them.  Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20).  He was lonely. 

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day.  I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom…  The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability.  The image of this is the family.  People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad.  Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past.  It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness.  He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen2:18).  These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone.  These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone.  He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as today’s Psalm says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.  It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way.  He brings everything back to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility.  This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life!  In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9).  This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense. For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude!  Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love.  We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”.  Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden.  Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (JOSEPH RATZINGER,  Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love. To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously. 

To carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions.  The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds.  “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.  Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way.  In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 3).

To carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17).  A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978).  The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

[Original Text: Italian]

------------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Angelus Address

"The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 04, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus Address today at noon in St. Peter's Square, following his having presided over Mass for the Opening of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica:

***

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Eucharistic celebration with which we began the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops just ended in St. Peter's Basilica. The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment. We'll keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to find, on the basis of His teaching of truth and mercy, the most appropriate ways for adequate commitment of the Church with families and for families, so that the Creator's original plan for man and woman be implemented and may operate in today's world, in all its beauty and its strength.

The liturgy of this Sunday repeats the fundamental text of Genesis on the complementarity and reciprocity between man and woman (cf. Gen 2.18 to 24). For this - the Bible says - the man leaves his father and mother and joins his wife and the two become one flesh, that is, one life, one existence (cf. v. 24). In this unit, the spouses transmit life to new human beings: they become parents. [They] participate in the creative power of God himself. But be careful! God is love, and one takes part in His work when one loves with Him and like Him. To this end - as Saint Paul says - love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (cf. Rom 5 , 5). And this is also the love that is given to spouses in the sacrament of marriage. It is the love that fuels their relationship, through joys and sorrows, quiet and difficult moments. It is 'the love that awakens the desire to create children, waiting for them, welcome them, raise them, educate them. It is the same love that, in today's Gospel, Jesus reveals to the children: "Let the children come to me, do not prevent them: for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mk 10:14).

Today, we ask the Lord that all parents and educators in the world, as well as all of society, are made instruments of that acceptance and love with which Jesus embraces the little ones. He looks into their hearts with tenderness and solicitude of a father and a mother at the same time. I think of so many children that are hungry, abandoned, exploited, forced into the war, refused. It is painful to see images of children that are unhappy, looking lost, fleeing from poverty and conflicts. They are knocking on our doors and our hearts begging for help. The Lord helps us not to be a 'fortress-society,' but a 'family-society,' which welcomes, with proper rules, but welcomes... Always welcomes... with love!

I invite you to support the work of the Synod with prayer, that the Holy Spirit makes the Synod Fathers fully docile to His inspirations. We invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, uniting ourselves spiritually to those who, at this moment, at the Shrine of Pompeii recite the "Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary."

[Original text: Italian]

----------------------------------------------------------------

Pope Francis' Address at Prayer Vigil for General Assembly of Synod of Bishops

'Let us set out once more from Nazareth for a Synod which, more than speaking about the family, can learn from the family, readily acknowledging its dignity, its strength and its value, despite all its problems and difficulties.'

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, October 04, 2015

Below is the Vatican-provided translation of the address Pope Francis gave at the Prayer Vigil for the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, Oct. 4-25, in St. Peter's Square Saturday evening:

***

Dear Families,

Good evening! What good is it to light a little candle in the darkness? Isn’t there a better way to dispel the darkness? Can the darkness even be overcome?

At some points in life – this life so full of amazing resources – such questions have to be asked. When life proves difficult and demanding, we can be tempted to step back, turn away and withdraw, perhaps even in the name of prudence and realism, and thus flee the responsibility of doing our part as best we can.

Do you remember what happened to Elijah? From a human point of view, the prophet was afraid and tried to run away. Afraid. “Elijah was afraid; he got up and fled for his life… He walked for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. At that place he came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kg 19:3,8-9). On Horeb, he would get his answer not in the great wind which shatters the rocks, not in the earthquake nor even in the fire. God’s grace does not shout out; it is a whisper which reaches all those who are ready to hear the gentle breeze – that still, small voice. It urges them to go forth, to return to the world, to be witnesses to God’s love for mankind, so that the world may believe…

In this vein, just a year ago, in this same Square, we invoked the Holy Spirit and asked that - in discussing the theme of the family - the Synod Fathers might listen attentively to one another, with their gaze fixed on Jesus, the definitive Word of the Father and the criterion by which everything is to be measured.

This evening, our prayer cannot be otherwise. For as Metropolitan Ignatius IV Hazim reminded us, without the Holy Spirit God is far off, Christ remains in the past, the Church becomes a mere organization, authority becomes domination, mission becomes propaganda, worship becomes mystique, Christian life the morality of slaves (cf. Address to the Ecumenical Conference of Uppsala, 1968).

So let us b pray that the Synod which opens tomorrow will show how the experience of marriage and family is rich and humanly fulfilling. May the Synod acknowledge, esteem, and proclaim all that is beautiful, good and holy about that experience. May it embrace situations of vulnerability and hardship: war, illness, grief, wounded relationships and brokenness, which create distress, resentment and separation. May it remind these families, and every family, that the Gospel is always “good news” which once again enables us to start over. From the treasury of the Church’s living tradition may the Fathers draw words of comfort and hope for families called in our own day to build the future of the ecclesial community and the city of man.

* * *

Every family is always a light, however faint, amid the darkness of this world.

Jesus’ own human experience took shape in the heart of a family, where he lived for thirty years. His family was like any number of others, living in an obscure village on the outskirts of the Empire.

Charles de Foucauld, perhaps like few others, grasped the import of the spirituality which radiates from Nazareth. This great explorer hastily abandoned his military career, attracted by the mystery of the Holy Family, the mystery of Jesus’ daily relationship with his parents and neighbours, his quiet labour, his humble prayer. Contemplating the Family of Nazareth, Brother Charles realized how empty the desire for wealth and power really is. Through his apostolate of charity, he became everything to everyone. Attracted by the life of a hermit, he came to understand that we do not grow in the love of God by avoiding the entanglement of human relations. For in loving others, we learn to love God, in stooping down to help our neighbour, we are lifted up to God. Through his fraternal closeness and his solidarity with the poor and the abandoned, he came to understand that it is they who evangelize us, they who help us to grow in humanity.

To understand the family today, we too need to enter - like Charles de Foucauld – into the mystery of the family of Nazareth, into its quiet daily life, not unlike that of most families, with their problems and their simple joys, a life marked by serene patience amid adversity, respect for others, a humility which is freeing and which flowers in service, a life of fraternity rooted in the sense that we are all members of one body.

The family is a place where evangelical holiness is lived out in the most ordinary conditions. There we are formed by the memory of past generations and we put down roots which enable us to go far. The family is a place of discernment, where we learn to recognize God’s plan for our lives and to embrace it with trust. It is a place of gratuitousness. of discreet fraternal presence and solidarity, a place where we learn to step out of ourselves and accept others, to forgive and to be feel forgiven.

* * *

Let us set out once more from Nazareth for a Synod which, more than speaking about the family, can learn from the family, readily acknowledging its dignity, its strength and its value, despite all its problems and difficulties.

In the “Galilee of the nations” of our own time, we will rediscover the richness and strength of a Church which is a mother, ever capable of giving and nourishing life, accompanying it with devotion, tenderness, and moral strength. For unless we can unite compassion with justice, we will end up being needlessly severe and deeply unjust.

A Church which is family is also able to show the closeness and love of a father, a responsible guardian who protects without confining, who corrects without demeaning, who trains by example and patience, sometimes simply by a silence which bespeaks prayerful and trusting expectation.

Above all, a Church of children who see themselves as brothers and sisters, will never end up considering anyone simply as a burden, a problem, an expense, a concern or a risk. Other persons are essentially a gift, and always remain so, even when they walk different paths.

The Church is an open house, far from outward pomp, hospitable in the simplicity of her members. That is why she can appeal to the longing for peace present in every man and woman, including those who – amid life’s trials – have wounded and suffering hearts.

This Church can indeed light up the darkness felt by so many men and women. She can credibly point them towards the goal and walk at their side, precisely because she herself first experienced what it is to be endlessly reborn in the merciful heart of the Father.

[Original Text: Italian]

------------------------------------------------------- 

Synod 15 - Pope Francis’ Address to First General Congregation

“Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be able to be a space of action of the Holy Spirit only if we, the participants, are clothed with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and confident prayer.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 05, 2015

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the First General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

* * *

Dear Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

The Church takes up again today the dialogue begun with the convocation of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family  -- and certainly also much earlier -- to evaluate and reflect together on the text of the Instrumentum laboris, elaborated from the Relatio Synodi and from the answers of the Episcopal Conferences and the organism having the right.

As we know, the Synod is a walking together with a spirit of collegiality and synodality, adopting the parrhesia, the pastoral and doctrinal zeal, the wisdom, the frankness, and always putting before our eyes the good of the Church, of families and the supreme law, the salus animarum (cf. Can. 1752).

I would like to recall that the Synod is not a congress or a “parlour,” it is not a parliament or a senate, where we come to agreement. Instead, the Synod is an ecclesial expression, that is, it is the Church that walks together to read the reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God; it is the Church that questions herself on her fidelity to the deposit of faith, which does not represent for her a museum to look at and even less so to safeguard, but is a living source in which the Church slakes herself and slakes and illumines the deposit of life.

The Synod moves necessarily in the heart of the Church and within the Holy People of God of which we are part in the quality of pastors, that is, servants.

Moreover, the Synod is a protected space where the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit speaks in the Synod through the language of all persons that allow themselves to be guided by the God that always surprises, by the God that reveals to little ones what he hides from the wise and the intelligent, by the God that created the Law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa, by the God that leaves the ninety nine sheep to seek the sheep that was lost, by the God that is always greater than our logic and our calculations.

Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be able to be a space of action of the Holy Spirit only if we, the participants, are clothed with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and confident prayer.

Apostolic courage that does not let itself be frightened by the seductions of the world, which tend to extinguished in men’s heart the light of truth, substituting it with little and temporary lights, and even less so in face of the petrification of some hearts that – despite good intentions – distance people from God, -- “The apostolic courage to bring life and not make of our Christian life a museum of memories” (Homily at Saint Martha’s, April 28, 2015).

Evangelical humility that is able to empty itself of its conventions and prejudices to listen to Brother Bishops and be filled with God. Humility that leads to not pointing the finger at others to judge them, but to stretch out our hand to them to raise them up without every feeling superior to them.

Confident prayer is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when all our moods are silenced to listen to the soft voice of God, who speaks in silence. Without listening to God, all our words will only be “words” that do not satiate and are of no use. Without letting ourselves be guided by the Spirit, all our decisions will only be “decorations,” which instead of exalting the Gospel cover and hide it.

Dear Brothers, as I have said, the Synod is not a parliament, where to reach consensus or common agreement recourse it taken to negotiation, to bargaining or to compromises, but the only method of the Synod is that of opening to the Holy Spirit, with apostolic courage, with evangelical humility and with confident prayer, so that it is He that guides and illumines us and puts before our eyes not our personal opinions but faith in God, fidelity of the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the salus animarum.

Finally, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; His Excellency Monsignor Fabio Fabene, Under-Secretary; the Relator His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdo and the Special Secretary, His Excellency Monsignor Bruno Forte, the delegate Presidents, the writers, the Consultors, the translators and all those that have worked with true fidelity and total dedication to the Church: my heartfelt thanks!

I also thank all of you, dear Synodal Fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors and Advisers for your active and fruitful participation.

I address special thanks to the journalists present at this moment and to those who follow us from a distance. Thank you for your passionate participation and for your admirable attention.

We begin our journey, invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph! Thank you!

----------------------------------------------------------

Pope’s Morning Homily: Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Says Fruits of the Suffering of the Just Are Often Yet to Be See

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 08, 2015

Pope Francis today at his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta confronted one of the perennial questions of the heart: Why do good things happen to bad people and the contrary for good people?

Echoing the questions posed in the first reading, from the Prophet Malachi, the Pope reflected: 

“How many times do we see this reality in bad people, in people who do evil, and seem to do well in life: they are happy, they have everything they want, they want for nothing. Why Lord? This is one of the many questions we have. Why does this brazen evildoer who cares nothing for God nor for neighbor, who is an unjust person – even mean – and things go well in his whole life, he has everything he wants, while we, who want to do good, have so many problems?”

The Holy Father drew from the Psalm of the Mass, Psalm 1, to consider that like the fruits of the Paschal Mystery, the fruits of the just are not always immediately seen.

“Now we do not see the fruits of this suffering people, this people carrying the cross, as on that Good Friday and Holy Saturday the fruits of the crucified Son of God, the fruits of His sufferings were yet to be seen: and whatever He does, turns out well; and what does the Psalm say of the wicked, of those for whom we think everything is going fine? ‘Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.’”

Pope Francis considered this end as illustrated in the Gospel parable of Lazarus:

“It is curious: that the [rich] man’s name is never spoken. He is just an adjective: he is a rich man (It. ricco, Gr. πλούσιος). Of the wicked, in God’s record book, there is no name: he is an evil one, a con man, a pimp ... They have no name. They only have adjectives. All those, who try to go on the way of the Lord, will rather be with His Son, who has the name: Jesus Saviour. It is a name that is difficult to understand, inexplicable for the trial of the Cross and for all that He suffered for us.”

------------------------------------------------------------

Angelus: On Jesus' Loving Gaze

"Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 11, 2015

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

The Gospel of today, taken from the 10th Chapter of Mark, plays out in three different scenes, marked by three gazes of Jesus.

The first scene presents the encounter between the Teacher and an anonymous person who, according to the parallel passage in Matthew, is identified as a "youth." An encounter of Jesus with a youth. The youth runs toward Jesus, kneels down and calls him, "Good Teacher." Then, he asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (v. 17). That is, happiness. "Eternal life" is not only the life of there beyond, but what is a full life, a complete one, limitless. 

What should we do to reach that? Jesus’ answer summarizes the commandments that refer to love for neighbor. In this respect, this youth finds no fault in himself; but evidently following the precepts is not sufficient for him. It does not satisfy his desire for plentitude. And Jesus intuits this desire that the youth carries in his heart; thus his answer becomes an intense gaze, full of tenderness and care. 

The Gospel says, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him" (v. 21). He realized that he was a good youth. But Jesus also understands the weak point of his interlocutor and makes him a concrete proposal: to give everything he has to the poor and follow him. But this youth has a heart divided between two lords: God and money, and he goes away sad. This shows us that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist. Thus, in the end, the initial impulse felt by the youth vanishes in the unhappiness of an [invitation to] follow that fails.

In the second scene, the Evangelist focuses on Jesus’ eyes and this time, it involves a thoughtful gaze, one of warning. He says: "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'" (v. 23). Faced with the amazement of his disciples, who ask, "Then who can be saved?" (v. 26), Jesus responds with a gaze of encouragement — this is the third gaze — and says, salvation, yes, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God" (v. 27). 

If we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we can overcome all of the obstacles that impede us from following him on the path of faith. To entrust oneself to the Lord. He will give us the strength; he will give us salvation; he will accompany us along the journey.

And thus we have arrived to the third scene, that of Jesus’ solemn declaration: I assure you that he who leaves everything to follow me will have eternal life in the age to come and a hundred times more now in this present age (cf. v. 29-30). 

This "hundred times more" is made up of the things that are first possessed and then left, but which are found infinitely multiplied. We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving. About which Jesus said, "There is more joy in giving than receiving."

The youth did not allow himself to be conquered by the loving gaze of Jesus and thus he wasn’t able to change. Only in welcoming with humble gratitude the Lord’s love do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life, that is authentic and luminous. 

And I ask you, youth, boys and girls, who are here in the Plaza, have you perceived Jesus’ gaze upon you? How do you want to respond to him? Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?

The Virgin Mary helps us to open our hearts to the love of Jesus, to the gaze of Jesus, the only one who can quench our thirst for happiness.

-------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Message to Missionaries in Argentina

"Never forget the call, the first encounter with Jesus, the joy with which you received the first proclamation, perhaps from your parents, your grandparents, your catechists or teachers"

By Staff Reporter

Rome, October 12, 2015

Here is a translation of the message Pope Francis sen to participants in the 4th National Meeting of Missionary Groups concluding today in Santiago del Estero, Argentina. The two-day event is organized by the Argentinean National Commission for the Missions and the Pontifical Missionary Works of Argentina, on the topic: “Mission, A Style of Life.”

* * *

Dear Brothers:

I greet you affectionately and join you spiritually in the celebration of the 4th National Meeting of Missionary Groups. Let us remember always that we cannot show others what we ourselves have not seen or heard. Therefore, to be a missionary, before proclaiming and communicating, it is necessary to see. To see that Jesus who made himself small to reach our weakness, who assumed our mortal flesh, to clothe it with his immortality and who comes daily to meet us, to walk with us and to give us his friendly hand in difficulty.

Dear brothers, never forget the call, the first encounter with Jesus, the joy with which you received the first proclamation, perhaps from your parents, your grandparents, your catechists or teachers. And do not cease to pray, to pray for one another, to support one another mutually with prayer, and you will see how Jesus, through you, and despite your weakness, will work wonders before all peoples.

Do not forget either that the mission, in addition to being a passion for Jesus, is a passion for his People: Let us allow ourselves to be looked at by Jesus, but let us also learn to look as Jesus does -- a look of tenderness, of understanding and of mercy, which leads us to touch the Lord’s wounds in the flesh of our needy brothers. To see Jesus in the other purifies the heart, freeing it from egoism, from second thoughts, from all worldly desires.

I hope that these brief reflections will encourage you to continue building an outgoing Church, solidaristic groups that work to communicate the joy the Lord has put in our hearts.

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you. And, please, I ask you to pray for me.

Affectionately,

[Francis]

Vatican, October 10, 2015

--------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Message to Participants in 3rd World Forum of Local Economic Development

“Before and beyond plans and programs, there are concrete women and men … who live, struggle and suffer, and who must be protagonists of their destiny”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 14, 2015

Here is a translation of the message Pope Francis sent to the participants in the 3rd World Forum of Local Economic Development, taking place in Turin from October 13-16.

* * *

Distinguished Gentleman

Honorable PIERO FASSINO

Mayor of Turin

I express my cordial greeting to you, to the Authorities and to all the participants in the 3rd World Forum of Local Development, taking place in Turin from October 13 to 16. Very opportunely, it intends to reflect on and discuss the potentialities of local economic development, as engine of a different vision of the economy, of development, of the relation with the earth and between persons. May God grant light and inspirations to this meeting, which is very important to promote the implementation of the 2013 Agenda, inclusion, the protection of the environment and integral human development. In order to offer a contribution to your endeavor, I would like to recall some ideas I expressed recently to the United Nations General Assembly about the objectives of Sustainable Development, which are a hope for humanity, on the condition that they are promoted in an appropriate way.

The effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda is urgent and indispensable. The decisions adopted by the International Community are important, but they always entail the temptation to fall into a declamatory nominalism with a tranquilizing effect on consciences. Moreover, the multiplicity and complexity of the problems requires making use of technical instruments of measurement. However, this entails a twofold danger: to limit oneself to the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long enumerations of good resolutions -- aims, objectives and indications, statistics -- or to believe that just one theoretic and a priori solution can respond to all the challenges.

Political and economic action is a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and which always has present that, before and beyond the plans and programs, there are concrete women and men, equal to the rulers, who live, struggle and suffer, and who must be protagonists of their destiny.

Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They are built and realized by each one, by each family, in communion with other human beings and in a just relation with the ambits in which human socialization is developed -- friends, communities, villages and municipalities, schools, businesses and labor unions, provinces, nations.

In this perspective, therefore, local economic development seems to be the most adequate answer to the challenges presented to us by an often cruel, globalized economy. The Third Forum intends, rightly, to present and to discuss practices and strategies related to the local ambit in the global processes of development and to focus on the potential of such practices and strategies, as essential resources, at all levels, including the regional, national and international. I pointed out to the UN that the simplest and most appropriate measure and indicator of the fulfilment of the new Agenda for development will be the effective, practical and immediate access for all to indispensable material and spiritual goods: own dwelling, fitting and duly remunerated work, proper food and potable water; religious freedom and, more in general, freedom of spirit and education. Now I will add that the only way to truly obtain these objectives and in a permanent way, is to work at the local level. In my meetings with popular movements and with the Italian cooperatives I recalled and developed these ideas, which can be summarized in two axioms: “small is beautiful,” “small is effective.”

The recurrent global crises have demonstrated how economic decisions that, in general, seek to promote the progress of all through the generation of new consumptions and the permanent increase of profit are unsustainable for the very working of the global economy. It must also be added that they are of themselves immoral, from the moment that they leave on the margin every question on what is just and what really serves the common good. Instead, the public and private political and economic discussions should question themselves on how to integrate ethical criteria in the systems and the decisions. The fundamental accent on the local, as the Forum of Local Development wishes, seems to be one of the master ways for a true ethical discernment and for the creation of economies and businesses that are truly free: free from ideologies, free from political manipulations, and above all free from the law of profit at all cost and from the perpetual expansion of affairs, to be truly at the service of all and reintegrate the excluded in social life.

Christian social thought in Italy, through figures such as Giuseppe Toniolo, Don Sturzo and others, following the lines traced by Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Rerum Novarum, has been able to offer an economic analysis that, beginning in fact from the local and territorial ambit, proposes options and directions for the global economy. A good part of lay social thought, beginning from different premises, also arrived at similar proposals. This vision of an economy, which goes from the local to the world, is also developed in other countries by many scholars. I limit myself here to recall Ernst Friedrich Schumacher and his famous work “Small Is Beautiful.”

Lord Mayor, I hope that these brief reflections are able to make a useful contribution to the debate and to the future activities of the Forum, in order to reinforce local development and especially to inspire the reform of great global models. Therefore, I renew my hope for the happy outcome of your meeting, while I invoke the Divine Blessing upon you, upon the other Authorities and upon the participants in the Forum, as well as upon the respective families and activities.

From the Vatican, October 10, 2015

FRANCIS

----------------------------------------------------------

General Audience   On Promises Made to Children

“Love is the promise that man and woman make to each child: from the moment he or she is conceived in thought. Children come into the world and expect to have confirmation of this promise: they expect it in a total, confident, vulnerable way”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 14, 2015

Here is a  translation of the address Pope Francis gave this morning at the general audience held in St. Peter’s Square.

Before going to the Square, the Pope met with the sick and disabled gathered in Paul VI Hall.

In his address in Italian, the Pontiff continued his meditation on the subject of the family and spoke of the promises made to children (Matthew 18:7-8.10).

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

As the weather forecasts were rather uncertain and rain was expected, today this Audience is made contemporaneously in two places: we, here, in the Square and 700 sick in Paul VI Hall, who are following the Audience on a giant screen. We are all united and we greet them with applause.

Jesus’ word is strong today: “Woe to the world because of scandals.” Jesus is realistic and he says: It is inevitable that scandals come, but woe to the man who causes the scandal. Before beginning the catechesis, in the name of the Church I would like to ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have happened in these recent times, whether in Rome or in the Vatican, for which I ask forgiveness.

Today we will reflect on a very important theme: the promises we make to children. I am not speaking so much of the promises we make here and there during the day to make them happy or to make them be good (perhaps with some innocent gimmick: I’ll give you a sweet and similar promises), to entice them to be committed in school or to dissuade them from some whim. I am speaking of other promises, more important promises, which are decisive for their expectations in situations of life, for their trust in dealings with human beings, for their capacity to conceive God’s name as a blessing. They are promises we make to them.

We, adults, are quick to speak of children as a promise of life. We all say: children are a promise of life. And we are also easily moved, saying to young people that they are our future, it’s true. However, I sometimes wonder if we are as serious with their future, with the future of children and the future of young people! A question we should ask ourselves more often is this: how loyal are we with the promises we make to children, making them come into our world? We make them come into the world and this is a promise -- what do we promise them?

Acceptance and care, closeness and attention, trust and hope, are as many basic promises, which can be summarized in a single one: love. We promise love, namely, love that is expressed in acceptance, in care, in closeness, in attention, in trust and in hope, but the great promise is love. This is the most just way to receive a human being that comes into the world, and we all learn it, even before being conscious. It pleases me so much when I see fathers and mothers, when I go among you, bringing me a small boy or girl and I ask: “How old is he/she?” “Three weeks, four weeks ... I ask for the Lord’s blessing.” This also is called love. Love is the promise that man and woman make to each child: from the moment he or she is conceived in thought. Children come into the world and expect to have confirmation of this promise: they expect it in a total, confident, vulnerable way.

Suffice it to look at them: in all ethnic groups, in all cultures, in all conditions of life! When the opposite happens, children are wounded by a “scandal,” by an unbearable scandal, all the more grave when they do not have the means to decipher it. They cannot understand what is happening. God watches over these promises from the first instant. Do you remember what Jesus says? The children’s Angels reflect the look of God, and God never loses sight of the children (cf. Matthew 18:10). Woe to those who betray their trust, woe! Their trusting abandonment to our promise, which commits us from the first instance, and judges us.

And I would like to add something else, with much respect for all, but also with much frankness. Their spontaneous trust in God must never be wounded, especially when that happens because of a certain presumption (more or less unwitting) of substituting ourselves for Him. The tender and mysterious relation of God with children’s souls must never be violated. It is a real relation, which God wishes and God protects -- from birth the child is ready to feel loved by God, he is ready for this. No sooner a child is able to feel that he is loved for himself, he also feels there is a God who loves children.

As soon as they are born children begin to receive as a gift, together with nourishment and care, the confirmation of the spiritual quality of love. Acts of love pass through the gift of the personal name, the sharing of language, the intentions of looks, the illuminations of smiles. Thus they learn that the beauty of the bond between human beings points to our soul, seeks our freedom, accepts the difference of the other, recognizes and respects him as interlocutor. A second miracle, a second promise: we -- father and mother -- give ourselves to you, to give you to yourself! And this is love, which brings a spark of that of God! However, you, fathers and mothers, have this spark of God that you give to the children, you are an instrument of the love of God and this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

It is only if we look at children with Jesus’ eyes that we can really understand in what way, by defending the family, we protect humanity! The point of view of children is the point of view of the Son of God. In Baptism, the Church herself makes great promises to children, with which she commits the parents and the Christian community. May the Holy Mother of Jesus -- through which the Son of God came to us, loved and generated as a child  -- make the Church capable of following the way of her maternity and her faith. And may Saint Joseph – just man, who received and protected, and honored courageously the blessing and promise of God -- make us all capable and worthy of receiving Jesus in every child that God sends on earth.

[Original text: Italian]

English-language summary

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, we now consider the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. The greatest of these is love; every child trusts that he or she will be loved and cared for. When that promise is broken, the result is a “scandal” which Jesus condemns, telling us that their angels in heaven stand in God’s presence (cf. Mt 18:10). The Church too, in Baptism, makes promises to our children, promises to be kept by parents and the Christian community as a whole. In experiencing human love, each child comes to sense the presence of a God who loves children. It is important for us to foster this mysterious relationship by leaving room for God in their young lives. Parents, in and through the love they show for their children, help them to appreciate their identity and uniqueness as sons and daughters of God. Jesus taught us to become like little children; in protecting our children, and protecting the family, may we keep the great promise which God has given to us in them, and through them, to our human family.

--------------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Morning Homily: God’s Love Is Free

During Mass at Santa Marta, Says Don’t Try to Control Salvation

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Vatican City, October 15, 2015

God’s love is free, so don’t try to be a controller of salvation. 

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, urging those gathered to not be fooled by those who want to limit God’s love.

"One of the hardest things for all Christians to understand,” the Pope said, “is the gratuitousness of salvation in Jesus Christ.”

The Holy Father observed that some of us have gotten too used to hearing that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to love, save, and die for us, to the extent that some “prefer not to understand this truth.”

Francis spoke on how Jesus and St. Paul were criticized for promoting this idea by those scholars who did not understand. St. Paul, the Pope pointed out, met great difficulty in making his people realize that the “gratuitousness of salvation”  is true doctrine.

In reference to today's feast day of St. Teresa, Pope Francis noted how this year marks the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila's birth. He noted how we celebrate this mystic today, but she was also was judged in her day.

"How many saints," the Holy Father lamented, "have been persecuted for defending love, the gratuitousness of salvation, the doctrine. Many saints. We think of Joan of Arc."

The Holy Father reminded those gathered that the Lord has given faithful the grace “to understand the horizons of love" and warned them against those who try to convince us otherwise.

The Pope concluded, posing two questions: “Do I believe that the Lord saved me gratuitously, freely? Do I believe that I have done nothing to merit salvation?”

“Let us ask ourselves these questions,” the Pope urged, adding that, “only in this way will we be faithful to this merciful love: the love of a father and a mother, because God also says He is like a mother with us; love, expanded horizons, without limits.  And let us not be fooled by scholars [of the Law] who limit this love.”

----------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Morning Homily: Beware of 'Virus' of Hypocrisy

During Mass at Santa Marta, Warns Against Self-Righteous Attitude Which Seduces With Lies

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Vatican City, October 16, 2015

Pope Francis has prescribed the "medicine" for if one is "infected" by the "virus" of hypocrisy: praying.

During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father warned against hypocrisy, calling it a self-righteous attitude "that seduces with lies that lurk in the shadows," reported Vatican Radio.

The Pope began by reflecting on today's Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus and His disciples are in the midst of a crowd who are trampling on each other. The Pontiff pointed out that Christ warned His disciples: "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees." The Pope observed that yeast is "a very small thing," yet Jesus speaks about it as if it were a "virus."

Almost like a doctor, Jesus is warning his fellow partners about the risks of it becoming an epidemic, Francis said.

Hypocrisy, the Pontiff explained, does not have a color, rather it plays with halftones and creeps in, seducing with a lie.

"This yeast is a virus that will cause you to get sick and die. Beware! This yeast brings darkness. Beware! But there is one that is greater than this: it is the Father who is in heaven."

The Pontiff told those gathered that praying, as indicated by Christ, is the only way to avoid the infection. Francis concluded, saying that only with prayer can one avoid falling into that "self-righteous attitude" of hypocrisy.

-------------------------------------------------

Pope's Angelus Address

"I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that afflicts the Holy Land."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 18, 2015

Below is a  translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square, following the Canonization Mass for four Blesseds:

***
Dear brothers and sisters,

I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that afflicts the Holy Land. In this moment, there is a need for much courage and much fortitude to say no to the hatred and revenge and to make gestures of peace. For this, we pray, that God reinforces in all governments and citizens the courage to oppose violence and to take concrete steps to thaw [the situation]. In the current context of the Middle East, it is, more than ever, crucial that there would be peace in the Holy Land: this we ask God and the good of humanity.

At the end of this celebration, I wish to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new Saints, especially the official delegations of Italy, Spain and France.

I greet the faithful of the dioceses of Lodi and Cremona, as well as the Daughters of the Oratory. The example of St. Vincent Grossi supports the commitment for Christian education of new generations.

I greet the pilgrims who have come from Spain, especially from Seville, and the Sisters of the Company of the Cross. The testimony of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception helps us to live in solidarity with and closeness to the most needy.

I greet the faithful from France, especially from Bayeux, Lisieux and Sées: we entrust our joys, hopes and difficulties of French families and of all around the world to the intercession of the spouses and now Saints, Ludovico Martin and Maria Azelia Guérin.

I thank the cardinals, bishops, priests, consecrated persons, as well as families, church groups and associations.

And now we turn ourselves to the Virgin Mary with filial love.

----------------------------------------------

Pope's Homily for Canonization Mass

"There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 18, 2015

Below is the Vatican-provided English translation of the Pope's homily delivered at this morning's Canonization Mass for Blesseds Vincenzo Grossi, Maria dell'Immacolata Concezione, Ludovico Martin and Maria Azelia Guérin in St. Peter's Square:

***

Today’s biblical readings present the theme of service. They call us to follow Jesus on the path of humility and the cross.

The prophet Isaiah depicts the Servant of the Lord (53:10-11) and his mission of salvation. The Servant is not someone of illustrious lineage; he is despised, shunned by all, a man of sorrows. He does not do great things or make memorable speeches; instead, he fulfils God’s plan through his humble, quiet presence and his suffering. His mission is carried out in suffering, and this enables him to understand those who suffer, to shoulder the guilt of others and to make atonement for it. The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord. His life and death, marked by an attitude of utter service (cf. Phil 2:7), were the cause of our salvation and the reconciliation of mankind with God. The kerygma, the heart of the Gospel, testifies that his death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Servant of the Lord. Saint Mark tells us how Jesus confronted the disciples James and John. Urged on by their mother, they wanted to sit at his right and left in God’s Kingdom (cf. Mk 10:37), claiming places of honour in accordance with their own hierarchical vision of the Kingdom. Their horizon was still clouded by illusions of earthly fulfilment. Jesus then gives a first “jolt” to their notions by speaking of his own earthly journey: “The cup that I drink you will drink… but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (vv. 39-40). With the image of the cup, he assures the two that they can fully partake of his destiny of suffering, without, however, promising their sought-after places of honour. His response is to invite them to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.

Faced with people who seek power and success in order to be noticed, who want their achievements and efforts to be acknowledged, the disciples are called to do the opposite. Jesus warns them: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-44). These words show us that service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church. Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility.

After proposing a model not to imitate, Jesus then offers himself as the ideal to be followed. By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45). In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan 7:14). Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life. By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church.

There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified. Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows”, and our suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion. He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.

Each of us, through baptism, share in our own way in Christ’s priesthood: the lay faithful in the common priesthood, priests in the ministerial priesthood. Consequently, all of us can receive the charity which flows from his open heart, for ourselves but also for others, and become “channels” of his love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering, discouraged and alone.

The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outsanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young. For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, drawing from the springs of prayer and contemplation, devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.

The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.

-------------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Morning Homily: Religion Isn't an Insurance Agency

At Casa Santa Marta, Says We Can't Put Our Security in Wealth

By Staff Reporter

Rome, October 19, 2015

Jesus is not against wealth, says Pope Francis, but he warns against putting one's security in money, and trying to make of religion an "insurance agency."

This was the theme of the Pope's homily this morning at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

We cannot serve two masters, the Holy Father reminded. Either a person serves God, or he serves money, Francis said and, drawing from the Gospel reading, he lamented that attachment to wealth is divisive.

“Let us consider how many families we know, whose members have fought, who are fighting, who don’t [even] say ‘Hello!’ to each other, who hate each other – all for an inheritance."

In these cases, he said, "the love of family, love of children, siblings, parents – none of these is the most important thing – no, it’s money – and this destroys ... even wars, wars that we see today: yes, sure there is an ideal [over which people fight], but behind that, there is money; money for arms dealers, the money of those who profit from the war."

The Pope reflected that all of us likely know a family divided over money.

"Jesus is clear," he said. "‘Be careful and stay away from all kinds of greed: it is dangerous.’"

Greed, he said, "gives us a security that is not true." 

Jesus tells the parable of a rich man, “a good entrepreneur,” whose “fields had yielded an abundant harvest,” and who was “full of riches,” and, “instead of thinking: ‘But I will share this with my workers, with my employees, that they also might have a little more for their families,’ thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, seeing that I have nowhere to put my crops? Ah, so I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones.’ More and more: the thirst that comes from attachment to riches never ends. If you have your heart attached to wealth – when you have so much – you want more. This is the god of the person who is attached to riches.”

Pope Francis went on to say that the road that leads to salvation is that of the Beatitudes. “The first is poverty of spirit,” he said, saying that if one has riches, he musn't be attached to them, but place them at the service of others, “to share, to help many people to make their way.” 

The sign that tells us we have not fallen into “this sin of idolatry” is almsgiving, giving to those in need – and not giving merely of our abundance, but giving until it costs me “some privation” perhaps because “it is necessary for me." 

“That's a good sign: it means that one’s love for God is greater than one’s attachment to wealth.” The Pope proposed that there are three questions that we can ask ourselves:

“First question: ‘Do I give?’

"Second: ‘How much do I give?’

"Third question: ‘How do I give?’ Do I give as Jesus gives, with the caress of love, or as one who pays a tax? How do I give?

"'But Father, what do you mean by that?’

"When you help someone, do you look that person in the eye? Do you touch that person’s hand? Theirs is Christ’s own flesh, that person is your brother, your sister. At that moment you are like the Father who does not leave the birds of the air to go without food. With what love the Father gives! Let us ask God for the grace to be free of this idolatry, the attachment to wealth: let us ask the grace to look at Him, so rich in His love and so rich in generosity, in His mercy; and let us ask the grace to help others with the exercise of almsgiving, but as He does it. ‘But, Father, He has not let Himself be deprived of anything!' Jesus Christ, being equal to God, deprived Himself of this: He lowered Himself, He made Himself nothing – [yes,] He too deprived Himself of something.”

------------------------------------------------------------ 

Pope Francis’ Address at Commemorative Ceremony for 50th Anniversary of Synod of Bishops

"In a certain sense, what the Lord asks of us is already contained in the word 'synod'"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 19, 2015

This is a working translation of Pope Francis’ address Saturday at a commemorative ceremony for the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops. The translation is provided by Fr. Thomas Rosica, English-language media attaché of the Vatican press office.

***

Your Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

As the 14th Ordinary General Assembly is underway, it is a joy for me to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops and to praise and honor the Lord for the Synod of Bishops. From the Second Vatican Council up to the current Synod on the Family, we have gradually learned of the necessity and beauty of "walking together."

On this happy occasion, I would like to extend a cordial greeting to His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops along with the Undersecretary, His Excellency Archbishop Fabio Fabene, the Officials, the Consultors and other collaborators in the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Together with them, I greet and thank the Synod Fathers and other participants in this Synod Gathered here this morning in this hall.

At this time, we want to remember anche Those who, over the course of the last 50 years, have worked in the service of the Synod, starting from the successive General Secretaries: Cardinals W? Adys? Aw Rubin, Jozef Tomko, Jan Pieter Schotte and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. I take this opportunity to express my deepest, heartfelt gratitude To Those - Both living and deceased - who made such generous and competent Contributions to the activities of the Synod of Bishops.

From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I intended to Enhance the Synod, Which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council. For Blessed Paul VI, the Synod of Bishops was meant to keep alive the image of the Ecumenical Council and to reflect the conciliar spirit and method. The same Pontiff Desired That the Synodal organism "over time would be greatly improved." Twenty years later, St. John Paul II would echo Those sentiments When He Stated that "perhaps this tool can be improved further Top. Perhaps the collegial pastoral responsibility can find even find a fuller expression in the Synod. "Finally, in 2006, Benedict XVI approved some changes to the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, especially in light of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promulgated in the meantime.

We must continue on this path. The world we live in cui and That we are called to love and serve even with its contradictions, demands from the Church the Church the Strengthening of synergies in all areas of her mission. And it is on this way of synodality PRECISELY where we find the pathway That God Expects from the Church of the third millennium.

In a certain sense, what the Lord asks of us is Already contained in the word "synod." Walking together - Laity, Pastors, the Bishop of Rome - is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice . After reiterating That People of God is comprised of all the baptized who are called to "be a spiritual edifice and a holy priesthood," the Second Vatican Council proclaims that "the whole body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, can not err in matters of belief and manifests this reality in the supernatural sense of faith of the whole people, when 'from the bishops to the last of the lay faithful' show thier total agreement in matters of faith and morals. "

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I stressed that "the people of God is holy anointing Because this makes [the people] infallible" in matters of belief ", adding that" each baptized person, no matter what Their function is in the Church and whatever educational level of faith, is an active subject of evangelization and it would be inappropriate to think of a framework of evangelization any carried out by qualified actors in cui the rest of the faithful People were only recepients of Their actions. The sensus fidei Prevents rigid separation between "Ecclesia" (Church) and the Church teaching, and learing (Ecclesia docens discens), since even the Flock has an "instinct" to discern the new ways That the Lord is revealing to the Church.

It was this conviction that guided me when I Desired That God's people would be Consulted in the preparation of the two-phased synod on the family. Certainly, a consultation like this would never be portatili hear the entire sense of the Faith (sense of the faith). But how would we ever be portatili speak about the family without engaging families, listening to Their joys and Their hopes, Their sorrows and Their anguish? Through the answers to the two questionnaires sent to the Particular Churches, we had the opportunity to hear at least some of the people on issues Those That closely affect them and about Which they have much to say.
A Synodal church is listening to church, knowing That listening "is more than feeling." It is a mutual listening in cui everyone has something to learn. Faithful people, the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Rome: we are one in listening to others; and all are listening to the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth" (Jn 14:17), to know what the Spirit "is saying to the Churches" (Rev 2: 7).

The Synod of Bishops is the convergence point of this dynamic of listening Conducted at all levels of church life. The Synodal process starts by listening to the people, who "participate on even in the prophetic office of Christ", according to Functional in principle dear to the Church of the first millennium: "Quod omnes Tangit ab omnibus tractari debet" [Concerns all what needs to be debated by all]. The path of the Synod continues by listening to the pastors. Through the Synod Fathers, the bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, who must be portatili carefully distinguish from That Which flows from frequently changing public opinion.

On the eve of the Synod of last year, I stated: "First of all, let us ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of listeining for the Synod Fathers, I know That with the Spirit, we might be portatili hear the cry of the people and listen to the people until we breathe the will to Which God calls us. "

Finally, the Synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called upon to pronounce as "pastor and teacher of all Christians," not based on His personal convictions but as a supreme witness of "totius fides Ecclesiae" (the faith of the whole Church), of the guarantor of obedience of the Church and the conformity to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and to the Tradition of the Church.

The repute the Synod always act, cum Petro et sub Petro - Therefore not only cum Petro, but anche sub Petro - this is not a restriction of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. In fact the Pope, by the will of the Lord, is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops Both as much as of the multitude of the faithful." To this is connected the concept of "hierarchical absolution communion" (hierarchical communion) used by Vatican II: the Bishops being united with the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) and at the same time hierarchically Subjected to him as head of the college (sub Petro).

As a constitutive dimension of the Church, gives us the synodality blackberries appropriate interpretive framework to understand the hierarchical ministry. If we understand as St. John Chrysostom did, that "church and synod are synonymous," since the Church means nothing other than the common journey of the Flock of God along the paths of history towards the encounter of Christ Lord, then we understand That Within the Church, no one can be raised up higher than the others. On the contrary, in the Church, it is Necessary That each person be "lowered" in order to serve His or her brothers and sisters along the way.

Jesus founded the Church by placing at its head the Apostolic College, in cui the apostle Peter is the "rock" (cfr. Mt 16:18), the one who will confirm His brothers in the faith (cfr. Lk 22: 32) . But in this church, as in an inverted pyramid, the summit is located below the base. For Those who exercise this authority are called "Ministers" Because, according to Functional the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all. It is in serving the people of God That each Bishop Becomes For That portion of the flock entrusted to him, vicarius Christi (That vicar of Jesus who at the Last Supper stooped to wash the feet of the Apostles (cfr. Jn 13: 1 -15). And in a similar manner, the Successor of Peter is none other than the Servant of the servants of God (Servant of the servants of God).

Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of the service, the only power is the power of the cross, in the words of the Master: "You Know That the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and Their leaders oppress them. Shall it not be so among you: but whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave "(Mt 20: 25-27). "I Shall not be so among you:" in this expression we touch the heart of the mystery of the Church and receive the light Necessary to understand hierarchical service.

In a Synodal Church, the Synod of Bishops is only the most obvious manifestation of a dynamism of ecclesial communion That inspires all decisions. The first level of exercize of synodality is Realized in the particular (local) Churches. After having recalled the noble institution of the diocesan Synod, in cui priests and laity are called to collaborate with the Bishop for the good of the whole ecclesial community, the Code of Canon Law devotes ample space To Those That Are usually you called "bodies of communion "in the local Church: the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors, the Chapter of Canons and the Pastoral Council. Only to the extent That These Organizations are connected with Those on the ground, and begin with the people and Their everyday problems, can Synodal Church to begin to take shape: even When They may proceed with fatigue, they must be understood as occasions of listening and sharing.

Is that the second level of Ecclesiastical Provinces and Regions, of Particular (local Councils) and in a special way, Episcopal Conferences. We must reflect on Realizing even blackberries through These bodies - the intermediary aspects of collegiality - perhaps perhaps by integrating and updating some aspects of early church order. The hope of the Council That such bodies would help Increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet fully Been Realized. As I have said, "In a Church Synod it is not appropriate for the Pope to replace the local Episcopates in the discernment of all the problems That lie ahead in Their territories. In this sense, I feel the need to proceed in a healthy "decentralization."

Is that the last level of the universal Church. Here the Synod of Bishops, representing the Catholic episcopate, becomes an expression of episcopal collegiality inside a Church That is Synodal. It manifests the affective collegiality, Which may well become in some circumstances "effective," joining the Bishops among themselves and with the Pope in the solicitude for the People God.

The commitment to build a Synodal Church to Which all are called - each with His or her role entrusted to them by the Lord is loaded with ecumenical impications. For this reason, talking recently to a delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, I reiterated the conviction that "careful consideration of how to articulate in the Church's life the principle of collegiality and the service of the one who presides offers a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches. "

I am convinced That in a Synodal Church, the exercise of the Petrine primacy will receive greater light. The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but inside it was baptized as one among the baptized, and Within the College of Bishops as Bishop among Bishops; as one called at the same time as Successor of Peter - to lead the Church of Rome Which presides in charity over all the Churches.

While I reiterate the need and urgency to think of "a conversion of the papacy," I gladly repeat the words of my predecessor Pope John Paul II: "As Bishop of Rome I know well [...] That the full and visible communion of all the communities in cui, by virtue of God's faithfulness, His Spirit dwells, is the ardent desire of Christ. I am convinced That you have a special responsibility in this regard, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the Majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me ?? to find a form of exercise of the primacy Which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. "

Our gaze extends anche to humanity. A Synodal Church is like a banner lifted up among the nations (cf.. Is 11:12) in a world That even though invites participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration - Often hands over the destiny of entire populations into the greedy hands of restricted groups of the powerful. As a Church that "walks together" with men and women, sharing the hardships of history, let us cultivate the dream That the rediscovery of the inviolable dignity of peoples and the exercize of authority, even now will be portatili help civil society to be founded on justice and fraternity, generating a more beautiful and worthy world for mankind and for the generations that will come after us.

---------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Morning Mass: God Isn't Petty

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Says That God Won't Measure His Love, Even If Humans Do

 By Staff Reporter

Rome, October 20, 2015

There is no pettiness in God, and he gives his love freely, with an unbounded generosity, says Pope Francis.

This was the theme of the Pope's homily at morning Mass today in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

Noting that the word "abundance" is found three times in the reading today from Paul's letter to the Romans, the Holy Father reflected, "God gives in abundance up to the point as Paul wrote in his final summing up: 'But however much sin increased, grace was always greater.' It abounds everything.  And this is God’s love for us, without limits. All of Himself.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that God’s heart is always open, like that of the Prodigal Son's father.

“God is not a petty God. He doesn’t know pettiness. He gives everything.  God is not somebody who stays still: He is watching and waiting for us to convert. God is a God who goes out. He goes out to search, for each one of us.

"But is this true? Every day he searches, he is searching for us. As he already has done and already said, in the Parable of the lost sheep or the lost coin:  He is searching. He is always doing this.”

Recognizing that for human beings, this love is difficult to understand, the Pope shared a recollection of an 84-year-old religious sister that he knew in his home diocese who, he said, still goes out to visit ill people in the hospital and speaks to them with a smile about God’s love. Pope Francis said this sister received the grace to understand the mystery of God’s boundless love, a grace that so many do not receive. 

“It’s true, we always tend to weigh up the situation or things with the measurements that we have, and our measurements are small. For this reason, we’d do well to ask the Holy Spirit for this grace. Pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to draw closer, at least a little bit, in order to understand this love and have the desire to be embraced and kissed with that boundless love.” 

---------------------------------------------------------- 

General Audience:  On Promises Made Between Husband and Wife

“No other school can teach the truth of love if the family does not do it”

By Staff Reporter

Rome, October 21, 2015

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave this morning during the general audience.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the last meditation we reflected on the important promises that parents make to their children, when they were thought of in love and conceived in the womb.

We can add that, looking at it well, the whole family reality is founded on a promise: think about this well: the family identity is founded on a promise. It can be said that the family lives from the promise of love and fidelity that the man and woman make to one another.  This implies the commitment to receive and educate the children, but it is also carried out in taking care of elderly parents, in protecting and helping the weakest members of the family, in helping one another to fulfil one’s qualities and to accept one’s limitations.

And the conjugal promise extends to sharing the joys and sufferings of all fathers, mothers and children, in generous openness to all that is related to human coexistence and the common good. A family that is shut-in on itself is a contradiction, a mortification of the promise that made it be born and that makes it live. Never forget the identity of the family; it is always a promise that extends and is extended to the whole family and also to the whole of humanity.

In our days, the honoring of fidelity to the promise of family life is very weakened. On one hand, by a misunderstood right to seek one’s own satisfaction, at all cost and in any relationship. It is exalted as a non-negotiable principle of freedom. On the other hand, because they rely exclusively on the constrictions of the law in regard to the bonds of the life of relationship and of the commitment for the common good. However, in reality, no one wants to be loved only for his goods or out of obligation. Love, as well as friendship, owes its strength and beauty precisely to this fact: that it generates union without taking away freedom. Love is free; the promise of the family is free. And this is its beauty. Without freedom, there is no friendship; without freedom, there is no love; without freedom, there is no marriage. Therefore, freedom and fidelity are not opposed to one another, what is more, they support one another, both in personal as well as in social relations. In fact, let us think of the damages produced in the civilization of global communication by the inflation of kept promises in several fields and the indulgence for infidelity to the word given and to the commitments made.

Yes, dear brothers and sisters, fidelity is a promise of commitment that is self-fulfilling, growing in the free obedience to the word given. Fidelity is a trust that really “wants” to be shared, and a hope that “wants” to be cultivated together. And, speaking of fidelity, there comes to mind what our elderly, what are grandparents tell us about ‘those times when an agreement was made, a shaking of hands was sufficient, because there was fidelity in promises.’ And this, which is a social event, also has its origin in the family, in the shaking of hands of man and woman to go forward together their whole life. Fidelity to promises is truly a masterpiece of humanity! If we look at its daring beauty, we are frightened, but if we scorn its courageous tenacity, we are lost. No relation of love -- no friendship, no way of loving, no happiness of the common good -- reaches the height of our desire and our hope, if this miracle of the soul does not dwell in us. And I say “miracle,” because the strength and persuasion of fidelity, despite everything, never ends, delighting us and surprising us. The honoring of the word given, fidelity to the promise, cannot be bought and sold. They cannot be obliged by force nor can they be looked after without sacrifice.

No other school can teach the truth of love if the family does not do it. No law can impose the beauty and legacy of this treasure of human dignity, if the personal union between love and generation does not write it in our flesh.

Brothers and sisters, it is necessary to restore the social honor to fidelity of love, to restore social honor to fidelity of love. It is necessary to take away the secret nature of the daily miracle of millions of men and women that regenerate their family foundation, of which each society lives, without being able to guarantee it in any way. It is no accident that this principle of fidelity to the promise of love and generation is written in God’s creation as an everlasting blessing, to which the world is entrusted.

If Saint Paul can affirm that in the family union a decisive truth is mysteriously revealed also for the union of the Lord and of the Church, it means that the Church herself finds here a blessing to look after and of which one always learns, even before teaching it. Our fidelity to the promise is always entrusted to the grace and mercy of God. The love for the human family, in good and bad fortune, is a point of honor for the Church! May God grant us to be up to the measure of this promise.

And we pray for the Synod’s Fathers: may the Lord bless their work, carried out with creative fidelity, in the certainty that He, the first, the Lord, is faithful to his promises. Thank you.

 [English-language summary:]

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, we spoke last week about the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. Today we consider the promise of love and fidelity made between husbands and wives, which is the basis of all family life. This promise is called into question nowadays, and seen as somehow opposed to personal freedom. Yet the truth is that our freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life. Fidelity grows through our daily efforts to keep our word; indeed, fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings. There is no greater “school” to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family, which are, in God’s plan, a blessing for our world. Saint Paul tells us that the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the Church. In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the Church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfils his every promise.

------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Morning Homily: 'Every Day, Another Step' Is Way to Reach Our Conversion

At Casa Santa Marta, Says We Must Make Constant Effort to Open Door to Holy Spirit

By Staff Reporter

Rome, October 22, 2015

"Conversion is a duty" that takes daily effort, says Pope Francis, so that the door of our heart is opened more and more to the Holy Spirit.

The Pope made this point during his morning homily today at the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis commented on the reading from St Paul to the Romans to emphasize that in order to pass from a life of iniquity to a life of sanctity, we must work at it every day.

Saint Paul, the Pope said, uses the image of the athlete, the man who “trains in order to prepare himself for game, and makes a great effort.”

Also in our effort to reach the victory of Heaven, Saint Paul, the Pope said, “exhorts us to go forward with this effort."

“Ah, Father, are we able to think that sanctification comes through the effort I make, like the victory that comes to sportsmen through training? No. The efforts we make, this daily work of serving the Lord with our soul, with our heart, with our body, with our whole life only opens the door to the Holy Spirit. It is He who enters into us and saves us! He is the gift in Jesus Christ! Otherwise, we would make ourselves like fakirs: No, we are not fakirs. We, with our efforts, open the door.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that this is a difficult task, “because our weakness, original sin, the devil” are always trying to get us to turn back. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, he said, “warns us against this temptation to turn back”; he warns us “not to go back, not to fall.” We need to continue to go forward,“a little bit each day,” even “when there is great difficulty."

“A few months ago, I met a woman. Young, the mother of a family – a beautiful family – who had cancer. An ugly cancer. But she moved with happiness, she acted like she was healthy. And speaking about this attitude, she told me, 'Father, I would do anything to beat the cancer!' It’s that way with the Christian. We have received this gift in Jesus Christ and we have passed from sin, from the life of iniquity to the life of the gift in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit; we must do the same. Every day a step. Every day a step.”

Pope Francis pointed out some obstacles, such as the “desire to gossip." And in that case, he said, you need to make the effort to be silent. Otherwise, if we don’t work to overcome temptations, “there comes a little bit of slumber,” and we won’t have the “will to pray” - but then we try to pray a little bit anyway.

These small efforts, the Pope said, “help us not to fall, not to go back, not to return to iniquity but to go forward toward this gift, this promise of Jesus Christ which is precisely the encounter with Him. Let us ask this grace from the Lord: to be strong, to be strong in this training of life towards the encounter, that we might receive the gift of justification, the gift of grace, the gift of the Spirit in Christ Jesus.”

----------------------------------------------

Pope's Morning Homily: We Need to Know What's Happening and to Think About It

Christians are called to read the signs of the times, Pope Francis says, drawing a lesson from today's Gospel reading. And to do this, we must have silence, observe, and reflect.

The Pope offered this reflection today during his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

"We have this freedom to judge whatever is happening around us.  But in order to judge, we must have a good knowledge of what is happening around us. And how can we do this? How can we do this, which the Church calls ‘recognizing the signs of the times?’ Times are changing.  And it’s precisely Christian wisdom that recognizes these changes, recognizes the changing times and recognizes the signs of the times. What one thing and another thing means. And do this freely, without fear.”

Pope Francis admitted that it's easier to seek comfort in doing nothing.

“We stick with conformity, we reassure ourselves with (words like) ‘they told us, I heard, people said they read….’ In this way we are reassured.  But what is the truth?  What is the message that the Lord wants to give me with this sign of the times? First of all, in order to understand the signs of the times we need silence: to be silent and observe. And afterwards we need to reflect within ourselves. One example: why are there so many wars nowadays?  Why did something happen? And pray… silence, reflection and prayer.  It’s only in this way that we can understand the signs of the times, what Jesus wants to tell us.”

Understanding the signs of the times, noted the Pope, is not only for an elite cultural group. He recalled how Jesus didn’t tell us to look at how the professors, the doctors and the intellectuals do things but instead urged us to look at the farm labourer who knows how to “separate the wheat from the chaff.”

“Times are changing and we Christians must change continually. We must change whilst remaining fixed to our faith in Jesus Christ, fixed to the truth of the Gospel but we must adapt our attitude continuously according to the signs of the times. We are free. We are free thanks to the gift of freedom given to us by Jesus Christ. But our job is to look at what is happening within us, discern our feelings, our thoughts and what is happening around us and discern the signs of the times – through silence, reflection and prayer.”

------------------------------------------------

Pope's Discourse at Close of Synod

Dear Beatitudes, Eminences and Excellencies, 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like first of all to thank the Lord, who has guided our synodal process in these years by his Holy Spirit, whose support is never lacking to the Church.

My heartfelt thanks go to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, its Under-Secretary, and, together with them, the Relator, Cardinal Peter Erdő, and the Special Secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte, the Delegate Presidents, the writers, consultors and translators, and all those who have worked tirelessly and with total dedication to the Church: My deepest thanks!

I likewise thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors and Assessors, parish priests and families, for your active and fruitful participation.

And I thank all those unnamed men and women who contributed generously to the labours of this Synod by quietly working behind the scenes.

Be assured of my prayers, that the Lord will reward all of you with his abundant gifts of grace!

As I followed the labours of the Synod, I asked myself: What will it mean for the Church to conclude this Synod devoted to the family?

Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said.

Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.

It was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.

It was about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church’s pastors, who came to Rome bearing on their shoulders the burdens and the hopes, the riches and the challenges of families throughout the world.

It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.

It was about trying to view and interpret realities, today’s realities, through God’s eyes, so as to kindle the flame of faith and enlighten people’s hearts in times marked by discouragement, social, economic and moral crisis, and growing pessimism.

It was about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness, against all those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others.

It was also about laying closed hearts, which bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.

It was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and of sinners seeking forgiveness, not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves poor sinners.

It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.

In the course of this Synod, the different opinions which were freely expressed – and at times, unfortunately, not in entirely well-meaning ways – certainly led to a rich and lively dialogue; they offered a vivid image of a Church which does not simply “rubberstamp”, but draws from the sources of her faith living waters to refresh parched hearts.1

And – apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium – we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and each general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied.2 The 1985 Synod, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, spoke of inculturation as “the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity, and the taking root of Christianity in the various human cultures”.3 Inculturation does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.4

We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.

And without ever falling into the danger of relativism or of demonizing others, we sought to embrace, fully and courageously, the goodness and mercy of God who transcends our every human reckoning and desires only that “all be saved” (cf. 1 Tm2:4). In this way we wished to experience this Synod in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy which the Church is called to celebrated.

Dear Brothers,

The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae, laws and divine commandments, but raather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy (cf. Rom 3:21-30; Ps 129; Lk 11:37-54). It does have to do with overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother (cf. Lk 15:25-32) and the jealous labourers (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa (cf. Mk 2:27).

In this sense, the necessary human repentance, works and efforts take on a deeper meaning, not as the price of that salvation freely won for us by Christ on the cross, but as a response to the One who loved us first and saved us at the cost of his innocent blood, while we were still sinners (cf. Rom 5:6).

The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord (cf. Jn 12:44-50).

Blessed Paul VI expressed this eloquently: “”We can imagine, then, that each of our sins, our attempts to turn our back on God, kindles in him a more intense flame of love, a desire to bring us back to himself and to his saving plan… God, in Christ, shows himself to be infinitely good… God is good. Not only in himself; God is – let us say it with tears – good for us. He loves us, he seeks us out, he thinks of us, he knows us, he touches our hearts us and he waits for us. He will be – so to say – delighted on the day when we return and say: ‘Lord, in your goodness, forgive me. Thus our repentance becomes God’s joy”.5

Saint John Paul II also stated that: “the Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy… and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser”.6

Benedict XVI, too, said: “Mercy is indeed the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God… May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for mankind. When the Church has to recall an unrecognized truth, or a betrayed good, she always does so impelled by merciful love, so that men may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn10:10)”.7

In light of all this, and thanks to this time of grace which the Church has experienced in discussing the family, we feel mutually enriched. Many of us have felt the working of the Holy Spirit who is the real protagonist and guide of the Synod. For all of us, the word “family” has a new resonance, so much so that the word itself already evokes the richness of the family’s vocation and the significance of the labours of the Synod.8

In effect, for the Church to conclude the Synod means to return to our true “journeying together” in bringing to every part of the world, to every diocese, to every community and every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of God’s mercy!

Thank you!

_____________________________

1 Cf. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina on the Centenary of its Faculty of Theology, 3 March 2015.

2 Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della Sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, LDC, Leumann, 1981; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 44.

3 Final Relatio (7 December 1985), L’Osservatore Romano, 10 December 1985, 7.

4 “In virtue of her pastoral mission, the Church must remain ever attentive to historical changes and to the development of new ways of thinking. Not, of course, to submit to them, but rather to surmount obstacles standing in the way of accepting her counsels and directives” (Interview with Cardinal Georges Cottier, in La Civiltà Cattolica 3963-3964, 8 August 2015, p. 272).

5 Homily, 23 June 1968: Insegnamenti VI (1968), 1177-1178.

Dives in Misericordia, 13. He also said: “In the paschal mystery… God appears to us as he is: a tender-hearted Father, who does not give up in the face of his childrens’ ingratitude and is always ready to forgive (JOHN PAUL II, Regina Coeli, 23 April 1995: Insegnamenti XVIII, 1 [1995], 1035). So too he described resistance to mercy: “The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of ‘mercy’ seem to cause uneasiness…” (Dives in Misericordia [30 November 1980] 2).

Regina Coeli, 30 March 2008: Insegnamenti IV, 1 (2008), 489-490. Speaking of the power of mercy, he stated: “it is mercy that sets a limit to evil. In it is expressed God’s special nature – his holiness, the power of truth and of love” (Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, 15 April 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 667).

8 An acrostic look at the word “family” [Italian: “famiglia”] can help us summarize the Church’s mission as the task of: Forming new generations to experience love seriously, not as an individualistic search for a pleasure then to be discarded, and to believe once again in true, fruitful and lasting love as the sole way of emerging from ourselves and being open to others, leaving loneliness behind, living according to God’s will, finding fulfilment, realizing that marriage is “an experience which reveals God’s love, defending the sacredness of life, every life, defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously” (Homily for the Opening Mass of the Synod, 4 October 2015:L’Osservatore Romano, 5-6 October 2015, p. 7) and, furthermore, enhancing marriage preparation as a means of providing a deeper understanding of the Christian meaning of the sacrament of Matrimony; Approaching others, since a Church closed in on herself is a dead Church, while a Church which does leave her own precincts behind in order to seek, embrace and lead others to Christ is a Church which betrays her very mission and calling; Manifesting and bringing God’s mercy to families in need; to the abandoned, to the neglected elderly, to children pained by the separation of their parents, to poor families struggling to survive, to sinners knocking on our doors and those who are far away, to the differently able, to all those hurting in soul and body, and to couples torn by grief, sickness, death or persecution; Illuminating consciences often assailed by harmful and subtle dynamics which even attempt to replace God the Creator, dynamics which must be unmasked and resisted in full respect for the dignity of each person; Gaining and humbly rebuilding trust in the Church, which has been gravely weakened as a result of the conduct and sins of her children – sadly, the counter-witness of scandals committed in the Church by some clerics have damaged her credibility and obscured the brightness of her saving message; Labouring intensely to sustain and encourage those many strong and faithful families which, in the midst of their daily struggles, continue to give a great witness of fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the Lord’s commandments; Inventing renewed programmes of pastoral care for the family based on the Gospel and respectful of cultural differences, pastoral care which is capable of communicating the Good News in an attractive and positive manner and helping banish from young hearts the fear of making definitive commitments, pastoral care which is particularly attentive to children, who are the real victims of broken families, pastoral care which is innovative and provides a suitable preparation for the sacrament of Matrimony, rather than so many programmes which seem more of a formality than training for a lifelong commitment; Aiming to love unconditionally all families, particularly those experiencing difficulties, since no family should feel alone or excluded from the Church’s loving embrace, and the real scandal is a fear of love and of showing that love concretely.

---------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Homily at Closing Mass of Synod

Below is the Vatican-provided English translation of Pope Francis' homily at the Closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica this morning:

***

The three Readings for this Sunday show us God’s compassion, his fatherhood, definitively revealed in Jesus.

In the midst of a national disaster, the people deported by their enemies, the prophet Jeremiah proclaims that “the Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel” (31:7).  Why did he save them?  Because he is their Father (cf. v. 9); and as a Father, he takes care of his children and accompanies them on the way, sustaining “the blind and the lame, the women with child and those in labour” (31:8).  His fatherhood opens up for them a path forward, a way of consolation after so many tears and great sadness.  If the people remain faithful, if they persevere in their search for God even in a foreign land, God will change their captivity into freedom, their solitude into communion: what the people sow today in tears, they will reap tomorrow in joy (cf. Ps 125:6).  

We too have expressed, with the Psalm, the joy which is the fruit of the Lord’s salvation:  “our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy” (v. 2).  A believer is someone who has experienced God’s salvific action in his life.  We pastors have experienced what it means to sow with difficulty, at times in tears, and to rejoice for the grace of a harvest which is beyond our strength and capacity. 

The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews shows us Jesus’ compassion.  He also “is beset with weakness” (5:2), so that he can feel compassion for those in ignorance and error.  Jesus is the great high priest, holy and innocent, but also the high priest who has taken on our weakness and been tempted like us in all things, save sin (cf. 4:15).  For this reason he is the mediator of the new and definitive covenant which brings us salvation.

Today’s Gospel is directly linked to the First Reading: as the people of Israel were freed thanks to God’s fatherhood, so too Bartimaeus is freed thanks to Jesus’ compassion.  Jesus has just left Jericho.  Even though he has only begun his most important journey, which will take him to Jerusalem, he still stops to respond to Bartimaeus’ cry.  Jesus is moved by his request and becomes involved in his situation.  He is not content to offer him alms, but rather wants to personally encounter him.  He does not give him any instruction or response, but asks him: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51).  It might seem a senseless question: what could a blind man wish for if not his sight?  Yet, with this question made face to face, direct but respectful, Jesus shows that he wants to hear our needs.  He wants to talk with each of us about our lives, our real situations, so that nothing is kept from him.  After Bartimaeus’ healing, the Lord tells him: “Your faith has made you well” (v. 52).  It is beautiful to see how Christ admires Bartimaeus’ faith, how he has confidence in him.  He believes in us, more than we believe in ourselves.

There is an interesting detail.  Jesus asks his disciples to go and call Bartimaeus.  They address the blind man with two expressions, which only Jesus uses in the rest of the Gospel.  First they say to him: “Take heart!”, which literally means “have faith, strong courage!”.  Indeed, only an encounter with Jesus gives a person the strength to face the most difficult situations.  The second expression is “Rise!”, as Jesus said to so many of the sick, whom he took by the hand and healed.  His disciples do nothing other than repeat Jesus’ encouraging and liberating words, leading him directly to Jesus, without lecturing him.  Jesus’ disciples are called to this, even today, especially today: to bring people into contact with the compassionate Mercy that saves.  When humanity’s cry, like Bartimaeus’, becomes stronger still, there is no other response than to make Jesus’ words our own and, above all, imitate his heart.  Moments of suffering and conflict are for God occasions of mercy.  Today is a time of mercy!

There are, however, some temptations for those who follow Jesus.  The Gospel shows at least two of them.  None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did.  They continued to walk, going on as if nothing were happening.  If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem.  This can be a danger for us: in the face of constant problems, it is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered.  In this way, just like the disciples, we are with Jesus but we do not think like him.  We are in his group, but our hearts are not open.  We lose wonder, gratitude and enthusiasm, and risk becoming habitually unmoved by grace.  We are able to speak about him and work for him, but we live far from his heart, which is reaching out to those who are wounded.  This is the temptation: a “spirituality of illusion”: we can walk through the deserts of humanity without seeing what is really there; instead, we see what we want to see.  We are capable of developing views of the world, but we do not accept what the Lord places before our eyes.  A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.

There is a second temptation, that of falling into a “scheduled faith”.  We are able to walk with the People of God, but we already have our schedule for the journey, where everything is listed: we know where to go and how long it will take; everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother.  We run the risk of becoming the “many” of the Gospel who lose patience and rebuke Bartimaeus.  Just a short time before, they scolded the children (cf. 10:13), and now the blind beggar: whoever bothers us or is not of our stature is excluded.  Jesus, on the other hand, wants to include, above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him.  They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus.

In the end, Bartimaeus follows Jesus on his path (cf. v. 52).  He did not only regain his sight, but he joined the community of those who walk with Jesus.  Dear Synod Fathers, we have walked together.  Thank you for the path we have shared with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our brothers and sisters, in the search for the paths which the Gospel indicates for our times so that we can proclaim the mystery of family love.  Let us follow the path that the Lord desires. Let us ask him to turn to us with his healing and saving gaze, which knows how to radiate light, as it recalls the splendour which illuminates it.  Never allowing ourselves to be tarnished by pessimism or sin, let us seek and look upon the glory of God, which shines forth in men and women who are fully alive.

----------------------------------------------------

Pope's Angelus Address

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square:

***

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This morning, with the Holy Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family ended. I invite everyone to give thanks to God for these three weeks of intense work, animated by prayer and a spirit of true communion. It was tiring, but it was a true gift of God, which will definitely carry forward much fruit.

The word "synod" means "to walk together." And that which we experienced was the experience of the Church on this journey, having set out especially with families of God's holy people throughout the world. For this reason, the Word of God that comes to us today in the prophecy of Jeremiah struck me. He says this, "Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng." He says this. And the prophet adds: "They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water,
on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a Father to Israel" (Jm 31: 8-9). 

This Word of God tells us that the first wants to walk together with us, to have a "synod" with us; it is He, our Father. His "dream," always and forever, is to form a people, to bring them together, leading them toward the land of freedom and peace. And this people is made up of families: there is the 'mothers and those with child'; it is a people that as they walk, send life forward, with God's blessing.

It is a people that does not exclude the poor and the disadvantaged, but rather, includes them: 'among them, the blind and the lame'  - says the Lord. It is a family of families, in which those who struggle are not marginalized and left behind, but manage to keep up with the others, because this people walks along with those who are 'last'; as one does in families, and how the Lord has taught us, becoming poor with the poor, small with the smallest, and ultimately, with those who were 'last.' He has not done this to exclude the rich, the great, and those who could be considered 'first,' but because this is the only way to save them too, to save everyone, with the small, excluded and the 'last.'

I confess that this prophecy of people on their journey, I also compared with images of refugees marching on the streets of Europe, a dramatic reality of our times. God says to them: "They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water." Even those families who are suffering the most, who have been uprooted from their lands, were present with us in the Synod, in our prayers and in our work, through the voices of some of their pastors present in the Assembly. These people are in search of dignity, these families looking for peace are still with us, the Church does not abandon them, because they are part of the people that God wants to free from slavery and lead to freedom.

Therefore, this Word of God reflects the experience of synodality, which we have experienced. May the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, help us also to implement the signs emerging in a style of fraternal communion.

--------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Address to World Pilgrimage of Gypsy People

Rome, Oct 26.  Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave this morning to participants on the World Pilgrimage of Gypsy People.

The Pilgrimage was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in collaboration with the Migrantes Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference, with the Migrantes Office of the Diocese of Rome and with Sant’Egidio Community.

This year’s pilgrimage commemorates the 50th anniversary of the historic visit of Blessed Paul VI to the nomads camp of Pomezia (September 26, 1965).

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome and greet you all cordially. I thank Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio for his words and for having organized this event in collaboration with the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference, with the “Migrantes” Office of the Diocese of Rome and Sant’Egidio Community.

Dear gypsy friends, o Dei si tumentsa! [The Lord be with you!”]

Many of you come from afar and have made a long journey to arrive here. You are welcome! I thank you for wishing to commemorate together the historic meeting of Blessed Paul VI with the nomad people. Fifty years have passed since he came to visit you in the camp of Pomezia. With paternal urgency the Pope said to your grandparents and parents: “Wherever you stop you are considered a bother and as strangers [...] Here no; [...] here you find someone that loves you, esteems you, appreciates you and assists you” (Insegnamenti III [1965], 491). With these words, he spurred the Church to pastoral commitment with your people, encouraging you also at the same time to trust her. From that day up to today, we have been witnesses of great changes, as much in the field of evangelization, as in the human, social and cultural promotion of your community. We heard Doctor Peter Polak , his experience, and how this way must be promoted and continued to be promoted.

A strong sign of faith and spiritual growth of your ethnic groups is the ever- increasing number of priestly and diaconal vocations and of consecrated life. With us here today is Bishop Devprasad Ganava, who is also a son of this people. To you, dear consecrated, your brothers and sisters look with trust and hope for the role that you carry out and for all that you can do in the process of reconciliation within the society and the Church. You are a means between two cultures and, therefore, you are asked to be witnesses of evangelical transparency to foster the birth, growth and care of new vocations. Be able to accompany them not only in their spiritual journey but also in the ordinariness of daily life with all its toils, joys and preoccupations.

I know the difficulties of your people. On visiting some Roman parishes on the outskirts of the city, I have been able to appreciate your problems, your anxieties, and I saw that these issues call upon not only the Church but also the local authorities. I was able to see the precarious conditions in which many of you live, due to negligence and to the lack of work and of the necessary means of subsistence. This is contrary to the right of every person to a fitting life, to fitting work, to education and to health care. The moral and social order impose that every human being be able to enjoy his fundamental rights and respond to his duties. On this basis it is possible to build peaceful coexistence, in which the different cultures and traditions protect the respective values in an attitude  -- not of closure and opposition – but of dialogue and integration. We do not want to witness any longer family tragedies in which the children die of cold or among flames, or become objects in the hands of depraved persons, young people and women are involved in the traffic of drugs and of human beings. And this happens because we often fall into indifference and into the incapacity to accept customs and ways of life that are different from our own.

I would like a new history to begin for your people also, a renewed history, that the page be turned! The time has arrived to eradicate secular prejudices, preconceptions and mutual diffidence that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia. No one should feel isolated, and no one is authorized to strike the dignity and rights of others. It is the spirit of mercy that calls us to fight so that all these values are guaranteed. Therefore, let us allow the Gospel to shake our consciences and let us open our hearts and our hands to the neediest and most marginalized, beginning with the ones closest to us. I exhort you first of all, in today’s cities in which so much individualism is breathed, to commit yourselves to build more human peripheries, bonds of fraternity and sharing; you have this responsibility, it is also your task. And you can do it if you are first of all good Christians, avoiding all that is not worthy of this name: falsehood, frauds, mix ups, quarrels. You have the example of Blessed Zeffirino Gimenez Malla, son of your people, who is distinguished for his virtues, humility and honesty, and for his great devotion to Our Lady, a devotion that led him to martyrdom and to be known as “Martyr of the Rosary.” I propose him again to you today as a model of life and religiosity, also because of the cultural and ethnic ties that link you to him.

Dear friends, do not give the media and public opinion occasions to speak badly of you. You yourselves are the protagonists of your present and of your future. Like all citizens, you can contribute to the wellbeing and the progress of society, respecting the laws, accomplishing your duties and integrating yourselves also through the emancipation of the new generations. I see here in the Hall many young people and many children: they are the future of your people but also of the society in which they live. The children are your most precious treasure. Today your culture is in a phase of change; technological development renders your youngsters increasingly aware of their potentialities and their dignity, and they themselves feel the need to work for the personal human promotion of your people. This calls for their being assured of adequate schooling. And you must ask for this: it is a right!

Education is surely the basis for a person’s healthy development. It is noted that the poor level of schooling of many of your young people is today the main obstacle for access to the world of work. Your children have the right to go to school; do not impede them from doing so! Your children have the right to go to school! It is important that the impetus to better education come from the family, come from the parents, come from the grandparents; it is the task of the adults to ensure that the youngsters attend school. Access to education enables your young people to become active citizens, to participate in the political, social and economic life in the respective countries.

Requested of the civil institutions is the commitment to guarantee adequate formative courses for young gypsies, giving possibilities also to families that live in the most difficult conditions to benefit from adequate schooling and labor insertion. The process of integration poses to society the challenges of knowing the culture, the history and the values of the gypsy populations. May your culture and your values be known by all!

Many times, also on the part of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, you have been assured of the affection and encouragement of the Church. Now I would like to conclude with the words of Blessed Paul VI, who affirmed to you: “You are not on the margins in the Church, but, under certain aspects, you are at the center, you are at the heart. You are at the heart of the Church” (Ibid., 491-492). Mary is also in this heart, venerated by you as Our Lady of the Gypsies, whom we will shortly crown again to recall the gesture carried out by Pope Montini fifty years ago. I entrust you, your families and your future to her and to Blessed Zeffirino. And please, I ask you to pray for me. Thank you.

---------------------------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Address to Course for Military Chaplains

Rome, Oct. 26.   Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave this morning to participants in the 4th Course of Formation of Military Chaplains in International Humanitarian Law. The course is organized jointly by the Congregation for Bishops, by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

* * *

Dear Brothers,

I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the 4th Course of Formation of Military Chaplains in International Humanitarian Law, organized jointly by the Congregation for Bishops, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. I greet you all cordially, beginning with Cardinals Ouellet, Turkson and Tauran.

You have come together from different countries to reflect together on some of the present challenges of International Humanitarian Law, regarding the protection of human dignity during non-international armed conflicts and so-called “new” armed conflicts. Unfortunately, it is a topic of great present importance, especially if we think of the intensification of violence and the multiplication of theaters of war in several areas of the world, such as Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

In the ambit of the Course of Formation, you have been able to meditate and to exchange experiences on how your mission of spiritual support of members of the Armed Forces and of their families can contribute to prevent the violations of Humanitarian Law, for the purpose of reducing the pain and suffering that war always causes, in one who suffers it, certainly, but also in one who combats it. War, in fact, disfigures the bonds between brothers, between Nations; it also disfigures those who are witnesses of such atrocities. Many military men return after war operations or missions for the re-establishment of peace with true and proper interior wounds. War can leave an indelible mark on them. In reality, war always leaves an indelible mark. I have heard at this time the stories of so many Bishops, who receive in their dioceses soldiers who left to engage in war: how they return with these wounds.

Therefore, it is necessary to question oneself about the appropriate ways to cure the spiritual wounds of the military men that, having lived the experience of war, have witnessed atrocious crimes. These persons and their families require specific pastoral care, a solicitude that will make them feel the maternal closeness of the Church.

The role of the military chaplain is to accompany and support them in their journey, being for all of them a consoling and fraternal presence. You can pour on the wounds of these persons the balm of the Word of God, which alleviates the pains and infuses hope; and you can offer them the grace of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, which nourish and regenerate the afflicted soul.

Humanitarian Law intends to safeguard the essential principles of humanity in a context, that of war, which is dehumanizing in itself. It is geared to protecting those that do not take part in the conflict, such as the civilian population, the health care and religious personnel, and those that no longer take part actively [in the war], such as the wounded and prisoners. At the same time, this Law tends toward a ban of the weapons that inflict atrocious and useless suffering to the combatants, as well as particularly grave damages to the natural and cultural environment. To be able to carry out its objectives of humanizing the effects of armed conflicts, Humanitarian Law merits to be defused and promoted among all military men and Armed Forces, including those that are not of the State, as well as among the security and police personnel. Moreover, [the Law] needs to be further developed to address the new reality of war, which today, unfortunately, “has ever more deadly instruments” (Encyclical Laudato Si’, 104). I hope that the moments of discussions provided within the Course can contribute to the courageous search for new ways in this direction.

However, as Christians, we are profoundly convinced that the ultimate objective, that most worthy of the person and of the human community, is the abolition of war. Therefore, we must always be committed to build bridges that unite and not walls that separate; we must always help to seek the hope for mediation and reconciliation; we must never yield to the temptation to consider the other only as an enemy to destroy, but rather as a person, gifted with intrinsic dignity, Created by God in His image (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 274). Even in the midst of the laceration of war, we must never tire of reminding that “each one is immensely sacred” (Ibid.).

At this time, in which we are living a “third world war fought in pieces,” you are called to nourish in military men and in their families the spiritual and ethical dimension, which will help them to face the difficulties and the often lacerating questions inherent in this unique service to the homeland and to humanity. I also wish to greet some of the eminent personalities that were sent to offer their competence and experience in the field of Humanitarian Law and who contribute to avoid and alleviate great sufferings. I thank them. I want to assure you of my closeness in prayer and I accompany you with my Blessing, which I also impart, confirming to you chaplains the need for prayer. Chaplains must pray. Without prayer one cannot do all that humanity, the Church and God ask of you at this time. Ask your chaplains, ask yourselves: how much time of the day do I give to prayer? The answer will do everyone good. I impart to you and to all those entrusted to your pastoral care, my heartfelt Blessing. And please, do not forget to pray for me.

--------------------------------------------------

Pope's Address to Chaldean Bishops

Vatican City, October 26, 2015

Below is the Vatican-provided discourse of the address Pope Francis gave this morning when he received bishops of the Synod of the Chaldean Church in the Vatican, who are meeting in Rome from Oct. 24-29:

***

Your Beatitude,

Dear Brother Bishops,

I welcome you with joy and I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako for his kind words. I take this occasion to reach out, through you, to the faithful and all those dwelling in the beloved lands of Iraq and Syria in this particularly troubled and sensitive moment, with a message of comfort and Christian solidarity. With the approach of the Jubilee Year, may God’s mercy soothe the wounds of war afflicting the heart of your communities, that no one may feel discouragement in this time when the outcry of violence seems to drown out our heartfelt prayers for peace.

Today the situation in your lands of origin is gravely compromised by the fanatical hatred sown by terrorism, which continues to cause a great hemorrhage of faithful who leave the lands of their fathers, where they grew up firmly rooted in the furrow of tradition. This state of affairs clearly undermines the vital Christian presence in that land which witnessed the beginning of the journey of the Patriarch Abraham, heard the voice of the Prophets who called Israel to hope during the Exile, and saw the foundation of the first Churches upon the blood of many martyrs. There too Christians bore witness to the fullness of the Gospel, made their specific contribution to the growth of society over centuries of peaceful coexistence with our Islamic brothers and sisters. Sadly, these are times which are instead marked by countless examples of persecution, and even martyrdom.

The Chaldean Church, which suffers from the war, is also conscious of the needs of the faithful in the diaspora, who are desirous to maintaining their solid roots while becoming part of new situations. So I confirm, today more than ever, the complete support and solidarity of the Apostolic See in favour of the common good of the entire Chaldean Church. I pray that Christians will not be forced to abandon Iraq and the Middle East – I think especially of the sons and daughters of your Church, and their rich traditions.

I urge you to work tirelessly as builders of unity in all the provinces of Iraq, fostering dialogue and cooperation among all those engaged in public life, and contributing to healing existing divisions while preventing new ones from arising.

Your visit enables me to renew my heartfelt appeal to the international community to adopt every useful strategy aimed at bringing peace to countries terribly devastated by hatred, so that the life-giving breeze of love will once more be felt in places which have always been a crossroads for peoples, cultures and nations. May the peace for which we all hope arise on the horizon of history, so that the grievous tragedies caused by violence may yield to a climate of mutual coexistence.

The Synod which you are celebrating these days in Urbe, is a “journeying together”, a favorable moment of exchange amid the diversities which enrich your fraternal communion under the gaze of Christ, the Good Shepherd. As I had occasion to say in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, “Journeying together is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice… Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the cross. As the Master tells us: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Mt 20:25-27). It shall not be so among you: in this expression we touch the heart of the mystery of the Church, and we receive the enlightenment necessary to understand our hierarchical service” (Address for the Fifieth Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015).

I ask, then, to take up the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to have among you the mind of Christ (cf. Phil 2:5), acting with mercy, humility, patience and a mutual acceptance which gives rise to communion.

May the work of the Synod reflect a sense of responsibility, participation and service. Keep always before you the image of the Good Shepherd who is concerned for the salvation of his sheep, and is especially concerned for those who have strayed. May you imitate him: zealous in seeking the salus animarum of priests as well as laity, realizing full well that the exercise of communion sometimes demands a genuine kenosis, a self-basement and self-spoliation.

I encourage you to be a father to your priests and all consecrated men and woman, who are your primary collaborators, and, in respect for tradition and canonical norms, to be accepting of them, benevolent and understanding of their needs, discerning ways to help them be ever more aware of the demands of their ministry and service to the faithful. In doing so, you will bridge distances and discern the response to be given to the pressing needs of the Chaldean Church today, in your native lands and in the diaspora. In this way the reflections which emerge from your discussions will be able to provide fruitful solutions to your current needs and points of convergence for resolving liturgical and more general issues.

As I urge you to carry on your pastoral responsibilities with fraternal communion and a missionary spirit, I ask all of you, their pastors, to bring my words of encouragement to the faithful of the Chaldean Church. May they echo on your lips as a caress from the Pope which warms their hearts.

Entrusting the Chaldean Church to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, I impart to you, your priests and religious, and all the faithful, my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of hope and consolation in the love of our Merciful God.

----------------------------------------------

Synod: Message on the Middle East

Rome, October 26, 2015

On Saturday, the final day of the synod of bishops on the family, the synod fathers and participants released a statement on the situation in the Middle East, Africa and the Ukraine.

Here is a translation of the statement.

* * *

Gathered around the Holy Father Francis, Successor of Peter, we Synod Fathers, together with the fraternal Delegates, and the men and women Auditors taking part in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, turn our thoughts to all the families of the Middle East.

For years now, because of the bloody conflicts underway, they are victims of unheard of atrocities. Furthermore, their conditions of life have been aggravated in these last months and weeks.

The use of weapons of mass destruction, the indiscriminate killings, the decapitations, the kidnapping of human beings, the traffic of women, the enlisting of children, persecutions because of creed and ethnicity, the devastation of places of worship, the destruction of the cultural patrimony and innumerable other atrocities have constrained thousands of families to flee from their homes and to seek refuge elsewhere, often in conditions of extreme precariousness. At present they are impeded from returning and from exercising their right to live in dignity and safety in their own land, contributing to the reconstruction and material and spiritual wellbeing of their respective countries.

Continually violated in this dramatic context are the fundamental principles of human dignity and of peaceful and harmonious coexistence between persons and Nations, and the most elementary rights, such as that of life and religious freedom, and international humanitarian law.

Therefore, we wish to express our closeness to the Patriarchs, to the Bishops, to the priests, to the consecrated and to the faithful, as well as to all the inhabitants of the Middle East, to manifest our solidarity and assure them of our prayer. We think of all the kidnapped persons and we ask for their release. Our voices unite themselves to the cry of so many innocents: no more violence, no more terrorism, no more destruction, no more persecutions! May hostilities and the traffic of arms cease immediately!

Peace in the Middle East is sought not with choices imposed by force, but with political decisions that are respectful of the cultural and religious particularities of the individual Nations and of the different realities that compose it.

While we are grateful, in a special way, to Jordan, to Lebanon, to Turkey and to the numerous European countries for the hospitality given to the refugees, we address a new appeal to the International Community, that particular interests may be put aside and that it entrust itself, in the search for solutions, to the instruments of diplomacy, of dialogue and of International Law.

We recall Pope Francis’ words to “all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!” (Address in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques, Jerusalem, May 26, 2014).

We are convinced that peace is possible and that it is possible to stop the violence that in Syria, in Iraq, at Jerusalem and in the whole of the Holy Land, involve every day ever more families and innocent civilians and aggravate the humanitarian crisis. Reconciliation is the fruit of fraternity, of justice, of respect and of forgiveness.

Our sole desire, as that of the persons of good will that form part of the great human family, is that one be able to live in peace. "May Jews, Christians and Muslims find in other believersbrothers and sisters to be respected and loved, and in this way, beginning in their own lands, give the beautiful witness of serenity and concord between the children of Abraham" (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 19).

Our thought and our prayer extend, with the same concern, solicitude and love, to all the families that find themselves involved in similar situations in other parts of the world, especially in Africa and in Ukraine. We have kept them very present during the works of this Synodal Assembly, as well as the families of the Middle East, and for them also we ask forcefully a return to a fitting and tranquil life.

We entrust our intentions to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, expert in suffering, that the world may soon become one family of brothers and sisters!

--------------------------------------- 

Pope Congratulates Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew on Honorary Doctorate

Recognized by Sophia University Institute for his service to unity

Rome, October 27, 2015

Pope Francis has sent a message to the cardinal archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Bettori, following the conferral of a doctorate honoris causa in “Culture of Unity” to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, by the Sophia University Institute of Loppiano, Italy.

The Holy Father says the honorary degree is a "rightful recognition" of the Patriarch's work, as well as a contribution to "the common journey of our Churches towards full and visible unity, to which we tend with dedication and perseverance."

Here is a translation of the message:

* * *

Excellency Lord Cardinal Giuseppe Betori

Archbishop of Florence

Grand Chancellor of the “Sophia” University Institute

On the occasion of the conferring of a Doctorate Honoris Causa in the “Culture of Unity” to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, by the “Sophia” University Institute of Loppiano, I wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and express a cordial greeting to all those present.

A particular remembrance goes to the beloved Brother Bartholomew, to whom I renew sentiments of earnest esteem and profound appreciation, rejoicing over the present initiative that, beyond constituting a rightful recognition of his commitment in the promotion of the Culture of Unity, contributes favorably to the common journey of our Churches towards full and visible unity, to which we tend with dedication and perseverance.

In hoping that the “Sophia” University Institute -- following the charism proper of the Focolare Movement and open to the action of the Spirit -- continues to be a place of encounter and of dialogue between different cultures and religions, I assure you of my prayerful remembrance  and, while I ask you to pray for me, I send my Blessing to all those present.

FRANCISCUS PP.

----------------------------------------- 

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On 50 Years Since 'Nostra Aetate'

Rome, October 28, 2015

At 10 o’clock this morning, an “Interreligious” General Audience took place in Saint Peter’s Square, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Conciliar Declaration “Nostra Aetate.” At the beginning, Pope Francis greeted the sick and the elderly gathered in Paul VI Hall because of the bad weather.

Present at the Audience were representatives of several religions and the participants in the International Congress organized for the occasion by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in collaboration with the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and with the Pontifical Gregorian University.

The meeting began with the greetings of the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and of the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch; then, after the reading of a passage of “Nostra Aetate in several languages, the Holy Father Francis pronounced his meditation on the subject.

The Pope then addressed special greetings to the groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal to solidarity in favor of the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan, scourged by a devastating earthquake.

The Audience ended with a moment of personal silent prayer and a greeting to the representatives of the different religions present.

Here is a translation of the introductory greetings of Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran and Kurt Koch and the Holy Father’s catechesis.

* * *

CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN’S GREETING

Holiness,

Fifty years have gone by since the promulgation of the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, when the Church, listening to a world in rapid change, began to invite her members in a decisive way to promote relations of respect, friendship and dialogue with persons of other religions. Therefore, we are immensely grateful to you for having wished to hold an Inter-Religious General Audience, precisely on this day, in Saint Peter’s Square. Present here among others are the participants in the International Congress on Nostra Aetate, which is taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and representatives of various religions. In our common search for peace, the promise of the prophet Isaiah gives us hope: the Lord “will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast on all peoples, the veil that is spread over all the nations” (Isaiah 25:7).

Of that journey to that mountain, which at times has been difficult, but always exalting, in these first 50 years we, all gathered here today with you, Holy Father Francis, are witnesses, heirs and protagonists.

Thank you for your luminous witness, which encourages us to continue on the path of inter-religious dialogue, going to meet other believers with a clear awareness of our own identity, but with a spirit of great respect, esteem and friendship, ready to work together with those who pray and think differently from us.

Thank you for your incessant and tireless invitations, addressed to us believers and to all men and women of good will, to do our utmost for peace, eliminating injustices and inequalities, and to take care of our common home.

Today, gathered here in Rome around you, Successor of Peter, we wish to pray for peace – as has happened in the past in the Days of Assisi, and witness before the entire world that universal fraternity is possible.

[Original text: Italian]

 

CARDINAL KURT KOCH’S GREETING

Holy Father,

It is a joy and an honor for me to be able to greet you here in Saint Peter’s Square, also in the name of the representatives of the Jewish community that are taking part in the International Congress on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of “Nostra Aetate,” and, in particular, in the name of the delegation of the World Jewish Congress. Today’s Audience is an important contribution to further reflection on that “culture of encounter” between persons, peoples and religions that you have very much at heart.

Holy Father, a meeting heralding promises also took place at the beginning of the process that led to the drafting of “Nostra Aetate.” It was the conversation held on June 13, 1960, between the Holy Pope John XXIII and the Jewish historian Jules Isaak, who had presented to the Supreme Pontiff a Denkschrift with the urgent request to promote a new vision of relations between the Church and Judaism. After only a few months from this meeting, Pope John XXIII assigned the task to prepare a Declaration on the Jewish people for the Council. In the end this text was introduced as the fourth article in the Declaration on the relations of the Church with non-Christian religions.

This article represents not only the point of departure but the fulcrum itself of the entire “Nostra Aetate” Declaration. In fact, the Church has an altogether particular relation with the Jewish people, as one reads already in the first phrase: “As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock” (Nostra Aetate 4). In the light of this communion that exists between Jews and Christians in the history of salvation, the Council makes evident the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and acknowledges the great “common spiritual patrimony” to Christians and to Jews. Moreover, the Council deplores all hatred and manifestations of violence against the Jewish people, also by Christians, and condemns all forms of anti-Semitism.

“Nostra Aetate” is rightly considered the basic document and the Magna Charta of a fruitful relation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. On the 50th anniversary of this Declaration, we can also recall with gratitude that after the Council all the subsequent Pontiffs confirmed and deepened the encouraging prospects that are founded on “Nostra Aetate.” Holy Father, from time to time you have confirmed your great appreciation for the Jewish people. You expressed it in particular during your visit to the Holy Land with your prayer at the Wailing Wall and your touching reflection at the Yad Vashem Memorial.

In our days, at a time in which unfortunately new waves of anti-Semitism have arisen, you, Holy Father, remind us Christians incessantly that it is impossible to be a Christian and an anti-Semite at the same time. For this your unequivocal message and for the benevolence that you have always shown  to our Jewish brothers and sisters, my heartfelt gratitude, also in the name of the Jewish representatives here present and the whole Jewish community, and I ask upon us your <Blessing>. Shalom!

[Original text: Italian]

 

THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Often in the General Audiences there are persons or groups belonging to other religions. However, today this presence is altogether particular, to remember together the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Declaration “Nostra Aetate,” on the Catholic Church’s relations with non-Christian religions. Blessed Pope Paul VI had this subject very much at heart; he already on the feast of Pentecost of the previous year at the end of the Council, instituted the Secretariat for non-Christians, today the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Therefore I express my gratitude and my warm welcome to persons and groups of different religions, especially those from far away that wished to be present today.

Vatican II was an extraordinary time of reflection, dialogue and prayer to renew the Catholic Church’s look on herself and on the world – a reading of the signs of the times in view of an updating oriented by a twofold fidelity: fidelity to the ecclesial tradition and fidelity to the history of the men and women of our time. In fact God, who has revealed Himself in Creation and in history, who has spoken through the prophets and fully in His Son made man (cf. Hebrews 1:1), addresses the heart and spirit of every human being who seeks truth and ways to practice it.

The message of the “Nostra Aetate” Declaration is always timely. I will recall some points briefly:

There have been so many events, initiatives, institutional or personal relations with non-Christian religions in these last 50 years, that it is difficult to remember them all. A particularly significant event was the meeting of Assisi on October 27, 1986. It was desired and promoted by Saint John Paul II, who a year earlier, hence thirty years ago, addressing young Muslims at Casablanca, hoped that all believers in God would foster friendship and union among all men and peoples (August 19, 1985). The flame lighted at Assisi has extended to the whole world and constitutes a permanent sign of hope.

Special gratitude is owed to God for the true and proper transformation of the relation in these 50 years between Christians and Jews. Indifference and opposition have changed into collaboration and benevolence. From enemies and strangers we have become friends and brothers. The Council traced the way with the “Nostra Aetate” Declaration: “yes” to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity; “no” to every form of anti-Semitism and condemnation of all insults, discrimination and persecutions that stem from it. Mutual knowledge, respect and esteem constitute the way that, if it is true in a particular way for the relation with the Jews, is also equally true for relations with the other religions. I am thinking in particular of the Muslims who – as the Council reminded – “adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” (“Nostra Aetate,” 3). They refer to the paternity of Abraham, venerate Jesus as a prophet, honor his Virgin Mother, Mary, await the Day of Judgment, and practice prayer, almsgiving and fasting (cf. Ibid.).

The dialogue of which we are in need cannot be but open and respectful, and then it reveals itself fruitful. The condition is mutual respect and, at the same time, aim of the inter-religious dialogue: respect of others’ right to life, of their physical integrity, of the fundamental liberties, namely liberty of conscience, of thought, of expression and of religion.

The world looks at us believers, it exhorts us to collaborate with one another  and with men and women of good will who do not profess a religion; it asks us for effective answers on numerous subjects: peace, hunger, the misery that affects millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, in particular that committed in the name of religion, corruption, moral degradation, family crises the economy, finance and above all hope. We believers do not have recipes for these problems, but we have a great resource: prayer. And we believers pray. We must pray. Prayer is our treasure, from which we draw according to our respective traditions, to ask for the gifts for which humanity yearns.

Because of violence and terrorism, an attitude of suspicion has spread, if not of downright condemnation of religions. In reality, although no religion is immune from the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations in individuals and groups (cf. Address to the U.S. Congress, September 24, 2015), it is necessary to look at the positive values that they live and that they propose, which are sources of hope. It is about raising one’s eyes to go beyond. Dialogue based on trustful respect can bring seeds of good that in turn become shoots of friendship and collaboration in so many fields, especially in service to the poor, to the little ones, to the elderly, in the reception of migrants, in the care of those that are excluded. We can walk together taking care of one another and of Creation – all believers of all religions. Together we can praise the Creator for having given us the garden of the world to cultivate and protect as a common good, and we can undertake shared projects to fight poverty and ensure to every man and woman fitting conditions of life.

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which is upon us, is a propitious occasion to work together in the field of works of charity. And in this field, where compassion counts above all, so many persons can join us who do not consider themselves believers or who are searching for God and truth, persons who put at the center the other’s face, in particular, the face of the needy brother or sister. However, the mercy to which we are called embraces the whole of Creation, which God has entrusted to us, so that we are its guardians and not exploiters or, worse still, its destroyers. We must always propose to ourselves to leave it better than we found it (cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 194), beginning with the environment in which we live, with the little gestures of our daily life.

Dear brothers and sisters, in regard to the future of inter-religious dialogue, the first thing we must do is pray, and to pray for one another: we are brothers! May our prayer  -- each one according to his own tradition -- be able to adhere fully to the will of God, who wants all men to recognize themselves as brothers and to live as such, making up the great human family in the harmony of diversity.

[Original text: Italian]

 

GREETING IN ITALIAN

I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Sisters of Saint Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo and the Daughters of Jesus the Good Shepherd on the occasion of their respective General Chapters, encouraging them in their service to the Gospel and to the Church.

I greet the Deacons of the Slovenian College; the Pro Musica and Arte Sacra Foundation, the Haemodialysis Association of Milan and the Angels of Life of Giovinazzo.

On the day of the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude I hope that the memory of the Apostles, first witnesses of the Gospel, will enhance faith and encourage charity.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. At the end of the month of October we invoke Mary, Mother of Jesus. Dear young people, learn to pray to her with the simple and effective prayer of the Rosary; dear sick, may Our Lady be your support in the trial of pain; dear newlyweds, imitate her love for God and for brothers!

Now, to end this Audience, I invite all, each one on his own, to pray in silence. Each one should do so according to his religious tradition. Let us ask the Lord to make us more brothers among ourselves, and greater servants of our most needy brothers. Let us pray in silence.

[Silent prayer]

And may God bless all!

[Original text: Italian]

 

THE HOLY FATHER’S APPEAL

We are close to the populations of Pakistan and Afghanistan, scourged by a strong earthquake, which has caused numerous victims and immense damages. We pray for the deceased and their families, for all the wounded and homeless, imploring God for relief in suffering and courage in adversity.  May these brothers not lack our concrete solidarity.

[Original text: Italian]

 [Greeting in English:]

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today’s Audience marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions. I welcome the followers of the different religions who have joined us, especially those who have come from great distances. The Council’s Declaration was an expression of the Church’s esteem for the followers of other religious traditions, and her openness to dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship. The past fifty years have seen much progress in this regard. In a special way, we give thanks to God for the significant advances made in relations between Christians and Jews, and in those between Christians and Muslims. The world rightly expects believers to work together with all people of good will in confronting the many problems affecting our human family. It is my hope that the forthcoming Jubilee of Mercy will be an occasion for ever greater interreligious cooperation in works of charity, reconciliation and care for God’s gift of creation. As we look to the future of interreligous dialogue, let us pray that, in accordance with God’s will, all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters in the great human family, peacefully united in and through our diversities.

Speaker:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Nigeria, Israel, Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the United States of America. In a particular way I greet the ecumenical delegation from Korea, and I renew my thanks to the representatives of the different religions who have joined us today. God bless you all!

------------------------------------------------------

Pope Grants Plenary Indulgence to Legionaries of Christ, Members of Regnum Christi

Rome, October 28, 2015

Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence in the form of a jubilee year to the Legionaries of Christ and the members of Regnum Christi during the year in which they commemorate 75 years since their foundation. This jubilee will conclude with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart in 2016.

The Apostolic Penitentiary published a decree signed by the Major Penitentiary, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, as a response to the request from the General Director of Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ, Father Eduardo Robles-Gil.

The Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi may receive the jubilee indulgence during the solemnity of Christ the King in 2015 and the solemnity of the Sacred Heart in 2016 if they profess or devotionally renew the promises or vows which bind them to the Movement or the Legion, pray that the Lord keep their country faithful to its Christian vocation, as well as pray an Our Father, the Creed and an invocation to Our Lady, Queen of Apostles.

Likewise, the plenary indulgence will be granted if they dedicate a sufficient amount of time to the corporal or spiritual works of mercy, concluding with an Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles.

The indulgence will also be granted if the members dedicate time to learning or teaching Christian doctrine, or if they participate in evangelization missions.

Legionaries and Regnum Christi members who are impeded by age or illness can receive the indulgence by uniting themselves spiritually to the jubilee celebrations and offering their prayers and sufferings for the new Evangelization and the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ.

In a letter to Legionaries and Regnum Christi members, Fr. Robles-Gil wrote: “I encourage you to make the most of this grace that the Holy Father has granted us to renew our gratitude to the Lord for the gift of the Movement and to increase our desire to be apostles and credible witnesses of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ."

(October 28, 2015) 

--------------------------------------------------

Pope Establishes Foundation for Catholic Education

Rome, October 28, 2015

Pope Francis has instituted the Foundation Gravissimum Educationis by a chirograph bearing today's date. In the text, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude to the Congregation for Catholic Education for the initiatives organised to commemorate the 50th year since the declaration “Gravissimum educationis” on Christian education, promulgated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on 28 October 1965.

In the document, he expresses his satisfaction that the dicastery "wishes to constitute on this occasion a Foundation entitled Gravissimum Educationis, with the aim of pursuing 'scientific and cultural ends, intended to promote Catholic education in the world.'”

“The Church recognises the 'extreme importance of education in the life of man and how its influence ever grows in the social progress of this age,'" he said.

The Pope goes on to institute as public canonical and civil juridical entities the Foundation Gravissimum Educationis, whose premises will be located in Vatican City and which will be subject to current canon law, current civil law in Vatican City, and its statutes.

(October 28, 2015) 

----------------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Morning Homily: God Is All-Powerful But He Can't Sever Himself From Us

Rome, October 29, 2015

Though God is all-powerful, there is something he can't do and that is to sever himself from us, says Pope Francis.

The Pope made this reflection today during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

Drawing from the reading from St. Paul, the Holy Father explained Christian victory, since “if God is for us, who can be against us.”

This gift from God, he continued, is being held by Christians in their own hands and it’s almost as if they could say in a triumphalistic manner, “now we are the champions!”  But the meaning is another: we are the victors not because we are holding this gift in our hands but for another reason.  And that is because “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“It’s not because we are the victors over our enemies, over sin. No! We are so closely bound to God’s love that no person, no power, nothing can ever separate us from this love. Paul saw beyond the gift, he saw more, [he saw] who is giving that gift: it is a gift of re-creation, it’s a gift of regeneration in Jesus Christ. He saw God’s love. A love that cannot be explained.”

Pope Francis noted that we can refuse this gift by preferring our own sin, but that even still, God’s gift is always there for us.

“The gift is God’s love, a God who can’t sever himself from us. That is the impotence of God.  We say: ‘God is all powerful, He can do everything!” Except for one thing: Sever Himself from us!"

Pope Francis took up the Gospel image of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem to further emphasize his point.

"Jesus wept! He wept over Jerusalem and that weeping is all about God’s impotence: his inability to not love (us) and not sever himself from us.”

“It’s impossible for God to not love us!  And this is our safeguard. I can refuse that love, I can refuse just like the Good Thief did, until the end of his life.  But that love was waiting for him there. The most wicked and the most blasphemous person is loved by God with the tenderness of a father.  And just as Paul said, as the Gospel said, as Jesus said: ‘Like a hen with her brood.’  And God the all-powerful, the Creator can do everything: God weeps!  All of God’s love is contained in this weeping by Jesus over Jerusalem and in those tears.  God weeps for me when I move away from him: God weeps for each one of us: God weeps for the evil people who do so many bad things, cause so much harm to mankind… He is waiting, he is not condemning (us) and he is weeping.  Why?  Because he loves (us)!” 

---------------------------------------------- 

Pope's Morning Homily: A Good Priest Knows How to Empathize

Rome, October 30, 2015

A good priest must be able to empathize with his flock, to become involved in their struggles and lives, says Pope Francis.

The Holy Father said this today in his homily at the morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

“It’s interesting that in the parable that we all know of the Prodigal Son, it’s said that when the father - who's the figure of a forgiving God – sees his son arriving he feels compassion," the Pope said. "God’s compassion isn’t about feeling pity: it’s nothing at all to do with that."

“I can feel pity,” he explained, “for a dog that is dying,” but God’s compassion is different, it means “empathizing with another person’s problem, empathizing with that person’s situation.”

“Jesus healed people but he is not a healer. No!  He healed people as a sign, as a sign of God’s compassion, to save that person, to bring back the lost sheep to the fold, the money that went missing from the woman’s purse. God has compassion. God loves us like a Father. He does this for each one of us. And when God forgives, he forgives like a Father and not like an official in the law court who reads out the verdict saying: ‘Acquitted for lack of evidence.’ He forgives us from within his heart. He forgives because he loved that person.”

Jesus, continued the Pope, was sent to bring the good news, “to free those who are oppressed” and “to enter the heart of each one of us, to free us from our sins and evil.”

“This is what a priest does: he feels empathy towards others and becomes involved in the life of people because he is a priest, like Jesus is a priest.  How many times – and then we must go to confession – do we criticize those priests who are not interested in what is happening to those in their congregation, who don’t care about them. He is not a good priest!  A good priest is one who empathizes.”

Pope Francis said a good priest is somebody who gets involved in all human problems.

He concluded his homily by paying tribute to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who was present at the Mass, to celebrate his 60 years of priesthood. He praised the Cardinal’s work on behalf of the Church when he headed the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, and said let us give thanks to God for these 60 years and for God’s compassion. 

---------------------------------------------------- 

Pope’s Address to Pilgrims Celebrating Blessed Oscar Romero

Rome, October 30, 2015

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address today at the Vatican to participants in a pilgrimage from El Salvador to Rome, in sign of thanksgiving for the beatification of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero.

* * *

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

Authorities,

Priests, Men and Women Religious, Seminarians,

Brothers and Sisters,

Good day. I receive your visit today with much joy and, on giving you my most cordial welcome, I also wish to express to you my affection for all the sons of the beloved Salvadorian nation.

I thank Monsignor Jose Luis Escobar, President of the Episcopal Conference, for his kind words. I thank all of you very much for your warm and enthusiastic presence.

Joy brings you to Rome for the recognition, as Blessed, of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, good Pastor, full of love of God and close to his brothers, who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, went so far as to give his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, Sacrifice of Supreme Love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel he was proclaiming.

From the beginning of the life of the Church, we Christians, persuaded by Christ’s words, who reminds us that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone”(John 12:24), have always had the conviction that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians, as Tertullian said. Blood of a great number of Christians that also today, continues to be shed dramatically in the field of the world, with the certain hope that it will fructify in an abundant harvest of holiness, of justice, reconciliation and love of God. But let us remember that one is not born a martyr. It is a grace that the Lord grants, and which concerns in a certain way all the baptized.  Archbishop Romero recalled: “We must be prepared to die for our faith, even if the Lord does not grant us this honor ... To give one’s life does not only mean to be killed. To give one’s life, to have the spirit of martyrdom, is to dedicate it to duty, in the silence of daily life; to give one’s life little by little” (General Audience, January 7, 2015).

A martyr, in fact, is not one that remains relegated in the past, a lovely image that adorns our churches and that we remember with a certain nostalgia. No, a martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the mystery of the communion of Saints and who, united to Christ, is not indifferent to our earthly pilgrimage, to our sufferings, to our anxieties. In the recent history of this beloved country, Monsignor Romero’s witness has been added to that of other brothers and sisters, such as Father Rutilio Grande, who, not fearing to lose their life, have won it and have been constituted intercessors of their people before the living God, who lives forever and ever, and who has in His hands the keys of death and of Hades (cf. Revelation 1:18). All these brothers are a treasure and a founded hope for the Church and for Salvadorian society. The impact of their commitment is still perceived in our days. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, they were configured with Christ, as so many witnesses of the faith of all times.

Dear Salvadorian friends, with only a few weeks to go before the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Monsignor Romero’s example constitutes for his beloved nation a stimulus and renewed endeavor for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, announcing it in such a way that all people will know it, so that the merciful love of the Divine Savior invades the heart and history of its good people. The holy people of God, pilgrimaging in El Salvador, still has ahead of it a series of difficult tasks; it continues to need, as the rest of the world, the evangelizing proclamation that will enable it to witness, in the communion of the one Church of Christ, a genuine Christian life, that will help it to foster the promotion and development of a nation that seeks true justice, genuine peace and the reconciliation of hearts.

On this occasion, with so much affection for each one of you here present and for all Salvadorians, I make my own the sentiments of Blessed Monsignor Romero, who with founded hope longed to see the arrival of the happy moment in which the terrible tragedy of the suffering of so many of our brothers because of hatred, violence and injustice, would disappear. May the Lord, with a rain of mercy and kindness, with a torrent of graces, convert all hearts and the beautiful homeland that He has given you, and which bears the name of the Divine Savior, may it become a country where all feel redeemed and brothers, without differences, because we are all one in Christ Our Lord (cf. Monsignor Oscar Romero, Homily in Aguilares, June 19, 1977).

I would also like to add something that perhaps we have neglected. Monsignor Romero’s martyrdom was not precise at the moment of his death; it was a martyrdom-testimony, of previous suffering, of previous persecution, up to his death. But also after because, once dead – I was a young priest and I was a witness of this – he was defamed, calumniated, soiled, that is, his martyrdom continued even by his brothers in the priesthood and the episcopate. I am not speaking from hearsay; I heard those things. In other words, it is nice to see him like this: a man who continues to be a martyr. Well now I do not think anyone dares. However, after giving his life, he continued to give it, letting himself be scourged by all those misunderstandings and calumnies. That gives me strength, God only knows. Only God knows the history of persons and how many times, persons who have already given their life or who have died, are continued to be scourged with the hardest stone that exists in the world: the tongue.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of Peace, whose feast we celebrated a few days ago, I invoke God’s blessing upon you and all the dear sons and daughters of that blessed land.

Thank you very much.

[Original text: Spanish]

---------------------------------------------------

Pope’s Message to Human Trafficking Conference

Rome, October 30, 2015

Here is a translation of a message that Pope Francis sent to the participants in a Conference on human trafficking, promoted and organized by “Saint Martha’s Group,” (Madrid, October 30-31).

* * *

Majesty,

Lord Bishops,

Distinguished Authorities,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great joy and pastoral satisfaction that the Saint Martha’s Group is meeting again in the symbolic Saint Lawrence Monastery of The Escorial in Spain. In the short time of its existence, this worthy group has been able to do much, and it is called to a decisive task for the eradication of the new slaveries. In the course of the present year some significant institutional novelties have arisen, which undoubtedly can support your activity and collaborate with the beneficent action of Saint Martha’s Group. I am referring, on one hand, to the meeting of Mayors in Vatican City on July 21, which I addressed. At that meeting these important personalities signed a Declaration committing themselves to eradicate the new slaveries, which they condemn as a crime against humanity. On the other, I also want to mention the recent approval of the 2030 Agenda, with the United Nations Organization’s new objectives of sustainable development, whose objective stated in 8.7 is: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”

As I had the opportunity to affirm, just before the unanimous approval of the said Agenda, in my address to the United Nations Organization in New York on September 25 of this year: “Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.”

Today the 193 States that adhere to the UN have a new moral imperative to combat the trade of persons, a true crime against humanity. The collaboration between Bishops and civil Authorities, each one according to his mission and nature, for the purpose of discovering the best practices for the accomplishment of this delicate task, is a decisive step to ensure that the will of governments reaches the victims in a direct and immediate, constant, effective and concrete way. You, ecclesiastical and civil Authorities, are called to be close to the victims and to support them in their search for dignity and freedom. So should the many brothers and sisters feel who suffer human trade. Today, dear members of Saint Martha’s Group, you are not alone in this delicate enterprise. You can count on the support of the most enlightened Mayors and of the whole of the International Community, given the respective commitment that they have made and signed. Let us thank God.

For my part, I pray to Almighty God to give you the grace to take this mission forward, which is so delicate, so humanitarian and so Christian, of curing the open and painful wounds of humanity, which are also Christ’s wounds. I assure you of all my support and prayer, and of the support and prayer of the faithful of the Catholic Church. With the help of God and your collaboration, this indispensable service of Saint Martha’s Group will be able to free the victims of the new slaveries, rehabilitate them and the captives and excluded, unmask the traffickers and the market creators, and give effective assistance to cities and nations; a service for the common good and the promotion of human dignity, that will be able to do the best for every person and every citizen. May God bless you all.

Vatican, October 28, 2015

FRANCISCUS

---------------------------------------------------

Pope's Message for 60th Anniversary of Latin American Bishops' Council

Rome, October 30, 2015

Here is a translation of the letter Pope Francis sent to the President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, on the occasion of the 60th year of the institution of CELAM.

--

Vatican, October 12, 2015
 

Dear Brother:

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), I wish to join you in thanksgiving for all the goods that the Lord has been sowing and bearing fruit, through your service to God’s Church in Latin America.

I hope that CELAM, keeping pastoral and missionary conversion as a priority, will be increasingly a participant, a support and a radiant impetus of that evangelizing movement toward all environments and peripheries. It is important that our communities be “homes and schools of communion,” that they attract by an astonishing fraternity, founded on the recognition of our common Father, and that they always help to maintain alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the taking up of their sufferings and the capacity of Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their present history, to open paths of greater fairness, peace and justice.

The forthcoming opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will be an event of grace, in which CELAM will carry out an essential service of animation, exchange and celebration.

Dear Brother, on transmitting my most cordial greetings of earnest esteem, I impart to all CELAM’s members and collaborators and to the whole Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate my Apostolic Blessing, putting in the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of America, all these intentions so that, through her intercession, Our Lord Jesus Christ will raise ever new and more holy missionary disciples in our Churches, and more courageous builders of peace and justice in our nations.

Fraternally,

FRANCISCUS

------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Address to Radio Maria

Vatican City, October 30, 2015

Below is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave when he received the Radio Maria Association in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace Thursday:

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you all affectionately, who make up the “Worldwide Family of Radio Maria.” I thank the President, Emanuele Ferrario, for his courteous words, and I thank you, directors of the various broadcasting stations active in some 70 countries in the five continents. Ideally, present here, through you, are the faces and hearts of your listeners that, increasingly, appreciate and follow the radio programs of Radio Maria and support it with volunteer workers and offerings.

From its birth, Radio Maria, gave itself the aim to help the Church in the work of evangelization; and to do so in its own way, that is with closeness to the concerns and dramas of the people, with words of comfort and hope, fruit of faith and commitment to solidarity. A clear and lofty objective, pursued with determination and constancy, which has been able to earn uncommon attention and following.

In carrying your intention forward, you have trusted Providence, which has never made you lack the means for your daily needs: for the modernization of technologies, in order to have the instruments in step with the times, and for the development of the Radio, first in Italy and then in many countries of the world, with surprising capillarity and rapidity. In this regard, the challenge is to maintain the style of sobriety, also in the search for appropriate instruments.

The diffusion of Radio Maria in so many environments of different culture, language and traditions, is good news for all, because it shows that, when one has the courage to propose contents of high profile, beginning with a clear Christian membership, the initiative finds a good reception beyond the best expectations, sometimes, also, with those that perhaps come into contact for the first time with the evangelical message. This should not astonish one too much, because Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, under whose name and protection your Radio is placed, is able to find the way to carry out great works  from small and humble beginnings.

Therefore, I invite you to persevere in your commitment, which has become a true mission, with fidelity to the Gospel and to the Magisterium of the Church, and to listen to the society and to persons, especially the poorest and most marginalized, in order to be for all your listeners a point of reference and of support. In fact, by spreading the Gospel and devotion to Jesus’ Mother and promoting love of the Church and of prayer, you offer a valid “channel” to hear beautiful reflections, to learn to pray, to deepen reflection on the contents of the faith, which build and enlarge the horizons. In this way, the Radio becomes a means that does not just communicate an ensemble of news, ideas of music without a leading thread, which could only seek to distract and perhaps amuse, but becomes a means of the first order to transmit hope, that true hope that derives from the salvation brought by the Lord Christ, and to offer good company to so many persons in need of it.

Today, you have gathered in Rome from all parts of the world to reflect on what could be called “the charism of Radio Maria.” It means that this Radio is listened to every day by more than 30 million people in the world and that it lives through the contribution of thousands of volunteers, offering a service appreciated in the local Church and also important for the civil community. All those that listen to your radio programs recognize you as a radio that gives ample space to prayer, witnessing that, when one opens to prayer, the door opens, more than that, it opens wide to the Lord. In doing this, you have the model of Our Lady. Therefore, it is necessary to love with Mary’s heart to live and feel in tune with the Church. So I encourage you to cultivate always the “interior garden” of prayer, listening of the Word of God, and to make use of good readings to deepen your faith; in other words, by doing yourselves what you propose to others with your programs. Moreover, always keep present that you give something great and unique: Christian hope, which is much more than simple spiritual consolation, because it is founded on the power of the Resurrection, witnessed with faith and works of charity.

Therefore, let us put under Mary’s protective mantle Radio Maria, in particular the persons and families of those that work there, your projects for the future, and all the men and women listeners. I bless you all and your work. And please, do not forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian]

---------------------------------------------------