Pope Francis - talks from June 1, 2013 

On the Feast of Corpus Domini

VATICAN CITY, June 02, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear friends and sisters, hello!

Thursday we celebrated the feast of “Corpus Domini,” which in Italy and other countries is moved to this Sunday. It is the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Gospel proposes to us the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves of bread (Luke9:11-17). I would like to reflect on an aspect of this miracle that always strikes me and makes me think. We are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, evening is drawing near; Jesus is concerned about the people who have been with him for many hours: there are thousands of people and they are hungry. What to do? The disciples pose the problem, and they say to Jesus: “Send the crowd away” so that they can go into the villages nearby and find something to eat. But Jesus says: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (9:13). The disciples are bewildered, and reply: “We only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish,” as if to say: just enough for us.

Jesus knows very well what to do but he wants to involve his disciples, he wants to educate them. The disciples have a human attitude, which looks for the more realist solution, which does not create too many problems: Send the crowd away, they say, and each person will do what he can. After all, you have already done a lot for them: you preached, you healed the sick... Send the crowd away!

Jesus’ attitude is sharply different, and it is determined by his union with the Father and by compassion for the people, that piety that Jesus has towards all of us: Jesus knows our problems, he knows are weaknesses, he knows our needs. With those 5 loaves of bread Jesus thinks: This is providence! From this little bit God can draw out what is necessary for everybody. Jesus puts himself entirely in the hands of the heavenly Father, he knows that with him all things are possible. So he tells the disciples to make the people sit down in groups of 50 – this is not by chance because this means that they are no longer a crowd but they have become a community nourished by the bread of God. Then he takes those bread and fish, lifts up his eyes to heaven, recites the benediction – it is a clear reference to the Eucharist – then he breaks them and begins to give them to the disciples, and the disciples distribute them... and there is not lack of bread and fish, no lack at all! This is the miracle: more than the multiplication there is the sharing animated by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and there is food left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the bread of God for humanity.

The disciples saw what happened but they did not understand the message very well. Like the crowd they were deeply impressed by the multiplication. Once again they do follow human logic rather than God’s logic, which is that of service, love, faith. The feast of “Corpus Domini" asks us to convert to faith in Providence, to know how to share the little that we are and have, and never to be closed up in ourselves. We ask our Mother Mary to help in this conversion, to follow more closely that Jesus whom we adore in the Eucharist. Amen.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

My concern over the continuing conflict in Syria is always profound and painful. It has disturbed Syria for more than 2 years and especially harms the unarmed population, which aspires to peace in justice and understanding. This tragic situation of war brings with it tragic consequences: death, destruction, enormous economic and environmental destruction as well as the scourge of kidnappings. In deploring these facts, I would like to assure my prayer and my solidarity for the persons who have been kidnapped and for their families and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers, that they might free their victims. Let us pray always for our beloved Syria.

In the world there are many situations of conflict, but there are also many signs of hope. I would like to encourage the many steps taken in Latin America toward reconciliation and peace. Let us accompany them with our prayer.

This morning I celebrated Mass with some members of the military and with some relatives of those who have died on peace missions that seek to promote reconciliation and peace in countries in which much blood of brothers continues to be spilled in wars that are always foolish. “Everything is lost with war. Everything is gained with peace.” I ask for prayer for the fallen, the wounded and their families. Let us pray together now in silence, on our heart – everyone together – a pray for the fallen, the wounded and their families. In silence.

I greet with affection all of the pilgrims who are here today: the families, the faithful of many parishes in Italy and other countries, the associations, the movements.

I greet the faithful who have come from Canada and those from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with group from Piccolo Cottolegno of Genova, the work of Don Orione.

Greetings to everyone. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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2013-06-03 Pope Francis in his homily for Mass Monday morning in at the Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis: the corrupt harm the Church; the saints are a light for all

Sinners, the corrupt, and saints: Pope Francis focused on these three groups in his homily for Mass Monday morning in at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said the corrupt do great harm to the Church because they are worshipers of themselves; the saints, on the other hand, do great good, they are lights in the Church.

What happens when we want to become the owners of the vineyard? The parable of the wicked tenants in Monday's Gospel reading provided the starting point for Pope Francis’ homily, which focused on “the three models of Christians in the Church: sinners, corrupt persons; and the saints.” The Pope noted that “there is no need to talk too much about sinners, because we are all sinners." "We recognize this from the inside,” he continued, “and we know what a sinner is. If any one of us does not feel that way, he should make a visit to a spiritual doctor” because “something is wrong.” The parable, however, presents us with another figure, the figure of those who want “to take possession of the vineyard, and who have lost the relationship with the Master of the vineyard,” a Master who, “has called us with love, who protects us, but who then gives us freedom.” Those who would take possession of the vineyard, “think they are strong, they think they are independent of God”:

“These, slowly, slipped on that autonomy, that independence in their relationship with God: ‘We don’t need that Master, who shouldn’t come and disturb us!’ And we go forward with this. These are the corrupt! These were sinners like all of us, but they have taken a step beyond that, as if they were confirmed in their sin: they don’t need God! But it only seems so, for in their genetic code there is this relationship with God. And since they can’t deny this, they make a special god: they themselves are god. They are corrupt.”

“This is a danger for us, too,” he added. In the “Christian communities,” he said, the corrupt think only of their own group: “Good, good. It’s about us - they think - but, in fact, ‘they are only out for themselves”:

“Judas [was the first]: from a greedy sinner, he ended in corruption. The road of autonomy is a dangerous road: the corrupt are very forgetful, have forgotten this love, with which the Lord made the vineyard, has made them! They severed the relationship with this love! And they become worshipers of themselves. How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption.”

The Pope spoke also of the saints, remembering that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bd Pope John XXIII, “a model of holiness.” In the day's Gospel, he added, the saints are those who “go to collect the rent” on the vineyard. “They know what is expected of them, but they must do it, and they do their duty”:

“The saints are those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard: the saints in the Church. Just as the corrupt do so much harm to the Church, the saints do so much good. The apostle John says of the corrupt that they are the antichrist, that they are among us, but they are not of us. About the saints, the Word of God tells us they are like light, ‘that they will be before the throne of God in adoration.’ Today we ask the Lord for the grace to understand that we are sinners, but truly sinners, not sinners broadly, but sinners with regard to this, that, and the other thing, concrete sins, with the concreteness of sin. The grace to not become corrupt: sinners, yes; corrupt, no! And the grace to walk in the paths of holiness. So be it.” 

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by a group of priests and collaborators from the Congregation, as well as a group of Gentlemen of His Holiness.

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June 4, 2013. During his daily Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis talked about hypocrisy. He explained a specific Gospel passage, where a group of Jews tries to talk Jesus into a trap.  The Pope said that hypocritical language is what  corrupt people normally use.

POPE FRANCIS

“Hypocrisy is the very language of corruption. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples, he says: 'let your language be: Yes, yes! No, no.' Hypocrisy is not a language of truth, because the truth is never given alone. Never! It is always given with love! There is no truth without love. Love is the first truth. If there is no love, there is no truth. These men want truth enslaved to their own interests. There is a love, of sorts: it is love of the self, love for themselves. That narcissist idolatry that leads them to betray others, that leads them to the abuse of trust.”

The Pope explained the importance of speaking clearly, of telling the truth without failing to be charitable with others and without trying to manipulate them.

POPE FRANCIS

“We all have some inner weakness and we like people to compliment us. We like that, we are all a bit vain, and these corrupt people know that and so they try to weaken us.  Let us think closely today: What is our language? Do we speak in truth, with love, or do we speak with in a 'sociable language': we are polite, we even say nice things, but we do not feel them? Let our language be evangelical brothers and sisters! These hypocrites that start out with flattery, adulation and all of that, will end up as false witnesses, accusing the very ones they had flattered. Let us ask the Lord today that our language be the language of the simple, the language of a child, the language of the children of God, the language of truth in love.”

 Let us think closely today: What is our language? Do we speak in truth, with love, or do we speak with in a 'sociable language': we are polite, we even say nice things, but we do not feel them? Let our language be evangelical brothers and sisters! These hypocrites that start out with flattery, adulation and all of that, will end up as false witnesses, accusing the very ones they had flattered. Let us ask the Lord today that our language be the language of the simple, the language of a child, the language of the children of God, the language of truth in love. "

“And the meekness that Jesus wants us to have, has nothing, has nothing of this adulation, this sickly sweet way of going on. Nothing! Meekness is simple, it is like that of a child. And a child is not hypocritical, because it is not corrupt. When Jesus says to us: 'Let your speech be' Yes is yes! No, is no! 'with the soul of a child', he means the exact opposite to the speech of these people.” 

The Mass was con-celebrated by the Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia and was attended by a group of Vatican Library employees.

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Pope Francis at Mass: 2013-06-05

Lamenting one’s suffering to God is not a sin, but a prayer of the heart that reaches the Lord: this was Pope Francis’ reflection at Mass Wednesday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence at the Vatican, with the presence of some members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Among others, the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera; Archbishop Joseph DiNoia, secretary of the same Congregation; and Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Library. Listen:   

The story of Tobit and Sarah, reported in the first reading of the day, was the focus of the Pope’s homily: Two just people who live dramatic situations. The first is blinded despite his performing good works, even risking his life, and the second marries seven men in turn, each of whom dies before their wedding night. Both, in their great sorrow, pray to God to let them die. “They are people in extreme situations,” explained Pope Francis, “and they seek a way out.” He said, “They complain,” but, “they do not blaspheme.”:

“To lament before God is not a sin. A priest I know once said to a woman who lamented to God about her misfortune: ‘But, madam, that is a form of prayer. Go ahead [with it].’ The Lord hears, He listens to our complaints. Think of the greats, of Job, when in chapter III (he says): ‘Cursed be the day I came into the world,’ and Jeremiah, in the twentieth chapter: ‘Cursed be the day’ – they complain even cursing, not the Lord, but the situation, right? It is only human.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the many people who live borderline cases: malnourished children, refugees, the terminally ill. He went on to observe that, in the Gospel of the day, there are the Sadducees who present to Jesus the difficult case of a woman, who is the widow of seven men. Their question, however, was not posed with sincerity:

“The Sadducees were talking about this woman as if she were a laboratory, all aseptic - hers was an [abstract] moral [problem]. When we think of the people who suffer so much, do we think of them as though they were an [abstract moral conundrum], pure ideas, ‘but in this case ... this case ...’, or do we think about them with our hearts, with our flesh, too? I do not like it when people speak about tough situations in an academic and not a human manner, sometimes with statistics ... and that’s it. In the Church there are many people in this situation.”

The Pope said that in these cases, we must do what Jesus says, pray:

“Pray for them. They must come into my heart, they must be a [cause of] restlessness for me: my brother is suffering, my sister suffers. Here [is] the mystery of the communion of saints: pray to the Lord, ‘But, Lord, look at that person: he cries, he is suffering. Pray, let me say, with the flesh: that our flesh pray. Not with ideas. Praying with the heart.”

And the prayers of Tobit and Sarah, which they offer up to the Lord even despite their asking to die, give us hope, because they are accepted by God in His own way, who does not let them die, but heals Tobit and finally gives a husband to Sara. Prayer, he explained, always reaches God, [so long as] it is prayer from the heart.” Instead, “when it is [an abstract exercise], such as that the Sadducees were discussing, never reaches him, because it never goes out of ourselves: we do not care. It is an intellectual game.” In conclusion, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for those who live dramatic situations and who suffer as much as Jesus on the cross, who cry, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” Let us pray - he concluded – “so that our prayer reaches [heaven] and let it be [a source of] hope for all of us.”

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Pope Francis: Trust in Christ's Loyalty
Pontiff Reflects on the Impact of Idolatry During Morning Mass Homily

VATICAN CITY, June 06, 2013 - Pope Francis reflected on the impact of idols in Christian life in today's homily at morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The morning Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop José Vitti of Curitiba in Brazil, Archbishop Juan Segura of Ibiza, Spain and Archbishop Chirayath Anthony of Sagar in India. Also present were staff from the Vatican Library as well as lay personnel from the Lateran University.

The Gospel recounted the scribe who asked Jesus "which is the first of all the commandments," to which Jesus responds "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!" After the scribe's approval of Christ's response, Jesus says to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Pope Francis explained the meaning of Christ's response to the faithful, saying that Christ meant to say: "You know the theory very well," but "you are still some distance from the Kingdom of God", that is, you have to walk to transform this commandment into reality, because we profess God through our way of life."

"Its not enough to say: 'But I believe in God, God is the only God.' Thats fine, but how do you live this out in your life's journey? Because we can say, 'The Lord is the only God, there is no other', but then live as if He was not the only God and have other deities at our disposal ... There is a danger of ' idolatry: idolatry, which is brought to us through the spirit of the world. And in this Jesus was clear: the spirit of the world, no. At the Last Supper he asks the Father to defend us from the spirit of the world, because the spirit of the world leads us to idolatry."

By discovering our hidden idols, the Holy Father continued, one may "not be far from the kingdom of God." Drawing an example from the Old Testament, where Jacob's wife who hid an idol from her father's house in her saddle. "We too have hid them in our saddle," Pope Francis said. "But we have to look for them and we have to destroy them, because to follow God the only path is that of a love based on loyalty"

"And loyalty demands we drive out our idols, that we uncover them: they are hidden in our personality, in our way of life. But these are hidden idols mean that we are not faithful in love. The Apostle James, when he says, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God, begins by saying: 'Adulterers!'. He gives out to us, but with that adjective: adulterers. Why? Because whoever is 'friend' of the world is an idolater, is not faithful to the love of God! The path that is not distant, that advances, moves forward in the Kingdom of God, is a path of loyalty which resembles that of married love."

Pope Francis concluded his homily calling on the faithful to trust in the loyalty of Christ who "loves us so much."

"We can now ask Jesus: 'Lord, you who are so good, teach me to be this path so that every day I may be less distant from the kingdom of God, this path to drive out all of my idols'. It is difficult, but we must begin," Pope Francis said. "The idols hidden in the many saddles, which we have in our personalities, in the way we live: drive out the idol of worldliness, which leads us to become enemies of God. We ask this grace of Jesus, today."

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Pope Reflects on the Science of God's Tenderness :  Celebrates Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 07, 2013  - On the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis reflected on the love of Christ during his homily at morning Mass today. The Mass, which took place in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, was concelebrated by the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, and Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Msgr. Sergio Pagano. It was attended by employees of the Vatican Secret Archives.

Contemplating on the solemnity, the Holy Father said to those present that Christ loved us not only with His words, but with His deeds and his life. The Pope also reflected on the words of St. Ignatius who said that the love of Jesus manifests itself more in deeds than in words and that it is especially more giving than receiving.

These two criteria are like the pillars of true love, Pope Francis said. [The Good Shepherd] knows his sheep by name because His is not an abstract or general love: it is love towards everyone.

"A God who draws near out of love, the Holy Father continued, walks with His people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word, present in the poor, He is present, walking with us. And this is closeness: the shepherd close to his flock, close to his sheep, whom he knows, one by one."

Pope Francis also drew examples of Gods love from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, which emphasizes caring for the sheep that are lost, wounded and sick. The Holy Father spoke of the tenderness of God to all.

The Lord knows that beautiful science of caresses, the tenderness of God. He does not love us with words. He comes close - closeness - and gives us His love with tenderness. Closeness and tenderness! The Lord loves us in these two ways, He draws near and gives all His love even in the smallest things: with tenderness. And this is a powerful love, because closeness and tenderness reveal the strength of Gods love.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on those present to not only love others the way God love us, but more importantly, to let ourselves be loved by God.

"This may sound like heresy, but it is the greatest truth! It is more difficult to let God love us, than to love Him! the Pope exclaimed.

The best way to love Him in return is to open our hearts and let Him love us. Let Him draw close to us and feel Him close to us. This is really very difficult: letting ourselves be loved by Him. And that is perhaps what we need to ask today in the Mass: 'Lord, I want to love You, but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of letting myself be loved by You, to feel You close and feel Your tenderness! May the Lord give us this grace."

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2013-06-08   Pope at Mass: Learning from Mary to keep the Word of God

Like Mary, we must learn to receive and keep the Word of God safe in our hearts. Marking the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary at morning Mass Saturday, Pope Francis pointed out that Mary assimilated the Word of God into her life, by meditating it and pondering what message the Lord had for her through His Word. This, he said is what safekeeping means.

Pope Francis developed his homily around the two themes of astonishment and safekeeping, starting from the Gospel of the day Luke chapter 2. It recounts the astonishment of the teachers in the Temple listening to Jesus and Mary’s keeping the Word of God safe in her heart. Astonishment, the Pope observed, "is more than joy: it is a moment in which the Word of God comes, is sown in our hearts. " But, he warned, "we cannot always live in wonder", this should be “kept in our hearts” throughout our lives. And this is precisely what Mary does, when she is "astonished" and keeps the "Word of God" in her heart:

"Keeping the Word of God: what does this mean? Do I receive the Word, and then take a bottle and put the word into the bottle and keep it there? No. Keeping the Word of God means that our heart opens, it is open to that Word just like the earth opens to receive the seed. The Word of God is a seed and is sown. And Jesus told us what happens with the seeds: some fall along the path, and the birds come and eat them; this Word is not kept, these hearts do not know how to receive it”.

Others, he said, fall into a stony soil and the seed dies. Jesus says that they "do not know how to keep the Word of God because they are not constant: When a tribulation comes they forget." The Pope said that the Word of God can often fall into a soil that is unprepared, unkept, full of thorns. And he asked, what are the thorns? Jesus pointed them out when He spoke of '"attachment to riches, vices”. Pope Francis said “keeping the Word of God means constantly meditating on what this Word says to us and what happens in our life." And this “is what Mary did”, she “pondered and assimilated it". This, said Pope Francis, "is a truly great spiritual work":

“John Paul II said that, because of this work, Mary had a particular heaviness in her heart, she had a fatigued heart. But this is not the same as tired, it is fatigue, this comes from effort. This is the effort of keeping the Word of God : the work of trying to find out what this means at this moment, what the Lord wants to say to me at this time, this situation of questioning the [meaning of ]the Word of God is how we understand. This is reading our life with the Word of God and this is what it means to keep it in our hearts".

Pope Francis added that memory also safeguards God's Word. “It helps us to preserve it, to remember everything the Lord has done in my life". He continued : “it reminds us of all the wonders of salvation in His people and in my heart. Memory safeguards the Word of God. " The Pope concluded his homily urging everyone to think "about how to keep the Word of God in our hearts, how to safeguard this astonishment, so that it is not eaten by the birds, suffocated by vices":

"We would do well to ask ourselves: 'With the things that happen in life, I ask myself the question: what is the Lord saying to me with His Word, right now?'. This is called keeping the Word of God, because the Word of God is precisely the message that the Lord gives us in every moment. Let us safeguard it with this: safeguard it with our memory. And safeguard it with our hope. We ask the Lord for the grace to receive the Word of God and keep it, and also the grace to have a heart that is fatigued in this effort. So be it. "

Saturday morning Mass was attended by staff from Caritas Internationalis, accompanied by the secretary general, Michel Roy. 

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June 10, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, the Pope talked about the Beatitudes, describing them as the 'new commandments.' He said that to truly understand them is not a matter of the mind, but rather of the heart. 

The Pope said that when people seek freedom, without God, they run the risk of becoming hypocrites like the Pharisees, and also spiritual slaves to a freedom that's fake and temporary.

“This is salvation: to live in the consolation of the Holy Spirit, not the consolation of the spirit of this world. No, that is not salvation, that is sin. Salvation is moving forward and opening our hearts so they can receive the Holy Spirit’s consolation, which is salvation. This is non-negotiable, you can’t take a bit from here and a bit from there? We cannot pick and mix, no? A bit of the Holy Spirit, a bit of the spirit of this world ... No! It’s one thing or the other.”

“They are the new commandments. But if our heart isn't open to the Holy Spirit, they will seem silly. ‘Just look, being poor, being meek, being merciful will hardly lead us to success'. If we do not have an open heart and if we have not experienced the consolation of the Holy Spirit, which is salvation, we cannot understand this. This is the law for those who have been saved and have opened their hearts to salvation. This is the law of the free, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.”

“Today we can now ask the Lord for the grace to follow Him, but with this freedom. Because if we want to follow him with our human freedom alone, in the end we become hypocrites like the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who quarreled with Him. This is hypocrisy: not allowing the Spirit to change our hearts with His salvation. The freedom of the Spirit, which the Spirit gives us, is also a kind of slavery, of being ‘enslaved’ to the Lord which makes us free, it is another freedom. Instead, our freedom is only slavery, but not to the Lord, but to the spirit of the world. Let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to the consolation of the Holy Spirit, so that this consolation, which is salvation, allows us to understand these commandments. So be it!”

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June 11, 2013. During his morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on how the Apostles went about their preaching. He said they didn't worry about material wealth. Instead, they had faith that God would grant them His gifts.

POPE FRANCIS

Despite the challenges, Pope Francis explained that Christians must carry on with the work of the Church. He said the best way to make this happen is through a spirit of poverty. 

 “Evangelical preaching flows from gratuitousness, from the wonder of the coming salvation: that which I have freely received I must freely give. This is what they were like at the beginning. St. Peter did not have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch a fish and find a coin inside it, so that he could pay. Philip, when he met Queen Candace’s finance minister, did not think, 'Ah, good, let’s set up an organization to support the Gospel ...' No! He did not strike a ‘deal’ with him: he preached, baptized and left.”

“Everything is grace. Everything. And what are the signs of when an apostle lives this gratuity? There are so many, but I will underline only two: First, poverty. The proclamation of the Gospel must follow the path of poverty. The testimony of this poverty: I have no wealth, my wealth is the gift I received, God: this gratuity is our wealth! And this poverty saves us from becoming managers, entrepreneurs ... The works of the Church must be brought forward, and some are a little complex, but with a heart of poverty, not with the heart of an investment broker or an entrepreneur…

“These are the two signs that mark an apostle who lives this gratuity: poverty and the ability to praise the Lord. And when we find apostles who want to build a rich Church and a Church without the gratuitousness of praise, the Church becomes old, the Church becomes an NGO, the Church becomes lifeless. Today we ask the Lord for the grace to acknowledge this generosity: 'Freely you have received, freely give'. It's about recognizing this gratuity, this gift of God . Let us keep preaching the Gospel in this way.”

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June 12, 2013.   During his daily Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained that the Beatitudes are God's 'new law' for mankind. The Pope also added that it is the Holy Spirit who helps humanity meet the will of God. But, he explained that mankind fears the Lord's will, and sometimes it's tempted to take a step backwards.


POPE FRANCIS
“This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are 'safer' going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward, which gives us this trust - as Paul says - which is more demanding because Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law”. It is more demanding! But it does not give us that human security. We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation.”

The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and attended by employees of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

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Celebrates Mass In Spanish For the First Time In His Papacy

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2013  - For the first time since his election to the papacy, Pope Francis celebrated morning Mass in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae in his native Spanish. Present at the Mass were the men and women who work in the Argentine embassies and consulates in Italy as well as staff from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of St. Matthew where Jesus says to his disciples, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Those words, the Holy Father noted, were said by Christ shortly after he proclaimed the Beatitudes. The Pope also said that those who wish to enter Christian life, will have “greater demands made of them than others.”

“Jesus mentions some of these demands, Pope Francis said, in particular the problem of bad relations among brethren.”

“If our heart harbors bad feelings towards our brothers something is not working and we must convert, we must change." The Pope went on to say that anger towards our brethren is an insult, as well as something “almost deadly.”

“In the Latin tradition, there is a wonderful creativity in inventing epithets. But, when this epithet is friendly this is fine, the problem is when there is another kind of epithet, when the mechanism of insult comes into play, which is a form of denigration of others."

“There is no need to go to a psychologist to know that when we denigrates another person it is because we are unable to grow up and need to belittle others, to feel more important,” the Holy Father continued. “This is an ugly mechanism".

The Pope noted that to speak ill of another or to belittle one another is a natural aggression, similar to that of Cain towards Abel, repeats itself throughout history not because we are bad, but because “we are weak and sinners.”

“That's why it is much easier to resolve a situation with an insult, with slander, defamation instead of resolving it with good means,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by warning those present to ask God for the grace to “watch what we say about others.”

It is a small penance but it bears a lot of fruit,” the Pope said. “Sometimes, we go hungry and think, What a pity I didn't taste the fruit of a tasty comment against another person. But that hunger bears fruit in the long run is good for us."

"That is why," Pope Francis concluded, "we ask the Lord for this grace: to adapt our lives "to this new law, which is the law of meekness, the law of love, the law of peace, and at least 'prune' our tongues a little, prune the comments that we make of others and outbursts that lead us to an easy anger or insult. May the Lord grant us all this grace".

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June 14, 2013.  When it comes to actually understanding and transmitting Christianity, Pope Francis said humility is needed. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, he explained that recognizing one's weakness and sinfulness is key. As an example, he said that even St. Paul, never forgot his past nor his sins.

POPE FRANCIS
"Brothers, we have a treasure: that of Jesus Christ the Savior. The Cross of Jesus Christ, this treasure of which we pride ourselves - but we have it in a clay vessel. Let us vaunt also our ‘handbook’ of our sins. Thus is the dialogue Christian and Catholic: concrete, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is concrete. Jesus Christ has not saved us with an idea, an intellectual program, no. He saved with His flesh, with the concreteness of flesh. He is lowered, made man, made flesh until the end. This is a gift that we can only understand, only receive, in earthen vessels."
Among those attending the Mass, were members of the Congregation for the Clergy and also several priests. The Pope reminded the clergy, that as priests, they need to be humble to successfully transmit the message of the Gospel.
“Paul has spoken many times. It's kind of like a refrain of his sins right? He says, 'But I tell you this: I've been a persecutor of the Church, I've been a persecutor.' He always comes back to recognize his sins. He feels sinful. But, even then he doesn't say, 'I was a sinner, but now I am Holy.' No! He says, 'Even now, there's a thorn of Satan in my flesh.' He shows us his own weakness, his own sins. He is a sinner who accepts Jesus Christ, who dialogues with Jesus Christ.”
This is the model of humility for us priests – for us priests, too. If we only pride ourselves on our [service record] and nothing more, we end up going the wrong way. We cannot proclaim Jesus Christ the Savior, if we do not feel Him present and at work deep down. We have to be humble, but with real humility, from head to toe: 'I am a sinner for this, for this, for this', as Paul did: 'I persecuted the Church, " - as he did, [recognizing ourselves] concrete sinners: not sinners with that [kind of ] humility, which seems more a put-on face, no? Oh no, strong humility.
The humility of the priest, the humility of a Christian is concrete, for which, therefore, if a Christian fails, to make this confession to himself and to the Church, then something is wrong," and the first thing to fail will be our ability "understand the beauty of salvation that Jesus brings us.
Brothers, we have a treasure: that of Jesus Christ the Savior. The Cross of Jesus Christ, this treasure of which we pride ourselves - but we have it in a clay vessel. Let us vaunt also our ‘handbook’ of our sins. Thus is the dialogue Christian and Catholic: concrete, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is concrete. Jesus Christ has not saved us with an idea, an intellectual program, no. He saved with His flesh, with the concreteness of flesh. He is lowered, made man, made flesh until the end. This is a gift that we can only understand, only receive, in earthen vessels.
The Samaritan woman, as well, who met Jesus and after speaking to him told her countrymen first of her sin and then about having met the Lord, behaved in a similar way to Paul. I believe that this woman is in heaven, for sure," because, as the Italian author Alessandro Manzoni once said, 'I have never found that the Lord began a miracle without finishing it well' and this miracle that He began definitely ended well in heaven.”

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2013-06-17    This was the focus of Pope Francis’s message during Mass on Monday morning at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Pope also affirmed that the righteousness of Jesus exceeds the righteousness of the scribes, that it is superior to the “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” kind of justice.

Amongst those present at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Cardinal Attilio Nicora, was a group of collaborators of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority and a group of Vatican Museums collaborators accompanied by the Museum administrative director, Fr Paolo Nicolini. The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Tagle, was also present.

“If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also”. Pope Francis focused his homily on Jesus’ earth-shaking words to his disciples. The slap of the cheek – he said - has become a classic take used by some to laugh about Christians. In life, he explained, everyday logic teaches us to “fight to defend our place” and if we receive a slap “we react and return two slaps in order to defend ourselves”. On the other hand, the Pope said, when I advise parents to scold their children I always say: “never slap their cheek”, because “the cheek is dignity”. And Jesus, he continued, after the slap on the cheek goes further and invites us to hand over our coat as well, to undress ourselves completely.

The righteousness that He brings – the Pope affirmed – is another kind of justice that is totally different from “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. It’s another justice. This is clear when St. Paul speaks of Christians as “people who have nothing in themselves but possess all things in Christ”. So, Christian security is exactly this “all” that is in Christ. “All” - he added – is Jesus Christ. Other things are “nothing” for a Christian. Instead, the Pope warned, “for the spirit of the world “all” means things: riches, vanities”, it means “to be well placed in society” where “Jesus is nothing”. Thus, if a Christian can walk 100 kilometres when he is asked to walk 10, “it’s because for him or for her this is “nothing”. And with serenity, “he or she can give his or her coat when asked for his or her tunic”. This is the secret of Christian benevolence that always goes together with meekness”: it is “all”, it is Jesus Christ:

“A Christian is a person who opens up his or her heart with this spirit of benevolence, because he or she has “all”: Jesus Christ. The other things are “nothing”. Some are good, they have a purpose, but in the moment of choice he or she always chooses “all”, with that meekness, that Christian meekness that is the sign of Jesus’ disciples: meekness and benevolence. To live like this is not easy, because you really do receive slaps! And on both cheeks! But a Christian is meek, a Christian is benevolent: he or she opens up his or her heart. Sometimes we come across these Christians with little hearts, with shrunken hearts…. This is not Christianity: this is selfishness, masked as Christianity”.

“A true Christian” – the Pope continued – “knows how to solve this bi-polar opposition, this tension that exists between “all” and “nothing”, just as Jesus has taught us: “First search for God’s Kingdom and its justice, the rest comes afterwards”.

“God’s Kingdom is “all”, the other is secondary. And all Christian errors, all the Church’s errors, all our errors stem from when we say “nothing” is “all”, and to “all” we say it does not count… Following Jesus is not easy, but it’s not difficult either, because on the path of love the Lord does things in such a way that we can go forward; it is the Lord himself who opens up our heart”.

This is what we must pray for – the Pope said – “when we are confronted with the choice of the slap, the coat, the 100 kilometres”, we must pray the Lord to “open up our heart” so that “we are benevolent and meek” . We must pray so that we do not “fight for small things, for the “nothings” of daily life”.

“When one takes on an option for “nothing”, it is from that option that conflicts arise in families, in friendships, between friends, in society. Conflicts that end in war: for “nothing”! “Nothing” is always the seed of wars. Because it is the seed of selfishness. “All” is Jesus. Let us ask the Lord to open up our heart, to make us humble, meek and benevolent because we have “all” in Him; and let’s ask him to help us avoid creating everyday problems stemming from “nothing”.

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June 18, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican,  Pope Francis explained that Christians must learn to love their enemies.  The Pope said that even though it's difficult to forgive someone who harms us, revenge is never the answer. Pope Francis stressed that forgiving someone can often seem diminishing.  But forgiveness, he said, is the true basis of harmony and understanding.   

 “We too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy ... we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us! We leave this to the cloistered nuns, who are holy, we leave this for some holy soul, but this is not right for everyday life. But it must be right! Jesus says: 'No, we must do this! Because otherwise you will be like the tax collectors, like pagans. Not Christians.”

“Pray! This is what Jesus advises us:' Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray! '. And say to God: 'Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love '. Let me just ask this question and let each of us answer it in our own heart: 'Do I pray for my enemies? Do I pray for those who do not love me? 'If we say' yes', I will say, 'Go on, pray more, you are on the right path! If the answer is' no ', the Lord says:' Poor thing. You too are an enemy of others! '. Pray that the Lord may change the hearts of those. We could say: 'But this person really wronged me', or they have done bad things and this impoverishes people, impoverishes humanity. And following this line of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

“With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others. Just as the poverty of Jesus became the grace of salvation for all of us, great wealth ... Let us think today at Mass, let us think of our enemies those who do not wish us well: it would be nice if we offered the Mass for them: Jesus, Jesus' sacrifice, for them, for those who do not love us. And for us too, so that the Lord teaches us this wisdom which is so hard, but so beautiful, because it makes us look like the Father, like our Father: it brings out the sun for everyone, good and bad. It makes us more like the Son, Jesus, who in his humiliation became poor to enrich us, with his poverty.”


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June 19, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, concelebrated also by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Pope Francis described  hypocrisy as a 'sin against the Holy Spirit.' Many people, the Pope said, brag about themselves as they fast or pray. But that, he explained is just a 'dead-end street.'

“Jesus says: ‘You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to others.’ They are ethicists without goodness, they do not know what goodness is. But they are ethicists, aren’t they? ‘You have to do this, and this, and this . . .’ They fill you with precepts, but without goodness. And those are some of the phylacteries, of the tassels they lengthen, so many things, to make a pretence of being majestic, perfect, they have no sense of beauty. They have no sense of beauty. They achieve only the beauty of a museum. They are intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness, the bearers of museum beauty. These are the hypocrites that Jesus rebukes so strongly.”

“The Lord speaks about fasting, about prayer, about almsgiving: the three pillars of Christian piety, of interior conversion, that the Church proposes to us all in Lent. There are even hypocrites along this path, who make a show of fasting, of giving alms, of praying. I think that when hypocrisy reaches this point in the relation with God, we are coming very close to the sin against the Holy Spirit. These do not know beauty, they do not know love, these do not know the truth: they are small, cowardly.”

“But all of us also have grace, the grace that comes from Jesus Christ: the grace of joy; the grace of magnanimity, of largesse. Hypocrites do not know what joy is, what largesse is, what magnanimity is.”

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June 20, 2013. The 'Our Father' prayer was the focus of the Pope's homily during his daily Mass at the Vatican. Pope Francis said that prayer is not some kind of magic spell. He explained that it's about putting one's trust in God. He alone, said the Pope, understands one's needs. 

The Pope's Mass was also celebrated by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and was attended, among others, by a group of Vatican Museums employees.

PARTIAL HOMILY

 “To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic God? That’s quite normal these days, is it not? ... praying to the cosmic God, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a rather light culture ... You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, 'Father '. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language.”

“We have a Father. He is very close to us, eh! He embraces us ... All these worries, concerns that we have, let's leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: Our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say 'Father' to Him.”

“No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray. This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. 'Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot'. It’s true, I understand. 'I cannot say our, because he did this to me and this ...' I cannot! 'They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them'. It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say 'Father' and how to say 'our'. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say 'Father' and to be able to say 'our', and thus make peace with all our enemies.”

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June 21, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis explained that God gave people 'a restless heart' that is always seeking treasures. But, he said it's easy to get lured in by 'fake treasures' that don't bring true happiness.

POPE FRANCIS

“The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a one that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord. Our hearts becomes restless for things that simply don’t work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . . To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled. If it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Let’s think about that. What do I have? A tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing.  This restlessness of the heart is always there. It's important to address it.”

The Pope then explained that real treasures are the ones, that don't disappear after death. He then jokingly said,  “I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession. But there is a treasure we can take with us.”

“The treasures we have given to others, that we take with us. And that will be our merit – in quotation marks, but it is our ‘merit’ of Jesus Christ in us! And that we must bring with us. And that is what the Lord lets us bring. Love, charity, service, patience, goodness, tenderness are very beautiful treasures: these we bring with us. The other things, no.

So, as the Gospel assures us, the treasure that has value in God’s sight is that which in this life is accumulated in heaven. But Jesus, Pope Francis says, goes a step further: He joins the treasure to the “heart,” He creates a relationship between the two terms. This, he adds, is because we have “a restless heart,” which the Lord made this way to seek Him out: The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a treasure that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord, our heart becomes restless for things that simply don’t work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . .

To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled: it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Let’s think about that. What do I have: a tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing? This restlessness of the heart always has to be cured.”

“Jesus speaks about the “eye,” a symbol “of the intentions of the heart” that are reflected in the body: a “heart that loves” makes the body luminous; a “wicked heart” makes it dark. “Our ability to judge things depends on this contrast between light and darkness, as is shown also by the fact that from a “heart of stone . . . attached to worldly treasures, to “selfish treasure,” can also become a treasure “of hatred,” come wars . . . Instead through the intercession of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church remembers today – let us ask for the grace of “a new heart . . . a heart of flesh.

All these pieces of the heart that are of stone, may the Lord make them human, with that restlessness, with that good anxiety to go forward, seeking Him and allowing ourselves to be sought by Him. That the Lord might change our hearts! And so He will save us. He will save us from the treasures that cannot help us in the encounter with Him, in service to others, and also will give us the light to understand and judge according to the true treasure: His truth. May the Lord change our heart in order to seek the true treasure and so become people of light, and not of darkness.”

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Pontiff Reflects on Asking God for the Grace of a Heart of Flesh

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2013  - Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask God for the grace of a heart that knows how to love during his morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae. Concelebrating the Mass was Cardinal Francis Coccopalmerio, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative texts, along with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta and auxiliary Bishop José Aparecido Gonzalves de Almeida, secretary and undersecretary respectively of the Council.

Members of the Council were in attendance as well as personnel from the Fabric of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, led by Msgr. James Ceretto, as well as employees of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The search for the only treasure that you can take with you into the next life is the purpose of a Christian. It is this purpose that Jesus explains to His disciples, in the passage quoted in the Gospel of Matthew: Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. But, he says, we must be careful not to be confused about true richness. There are risky treasures that threaten to seduce us, but must be left behind, treasures gathered in life that are destroyed by death. The Pope said, with a hint of irony: I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession. But there is a treasure we can take with us, a treasure that no one can take away, not those things you've kept for yourself, but those you have given to others:

The treasures we have given to others, that we take with us. And that will be our merit in quotation marks, but it is our merit of Jesus Christ in us! And that we must bring with us. And that is what the Lord lets us bring. Love, charity, service, patience, goodness, tenderness are very beautiful treasures: these we bring with us. The other things, no.

So, as the Gospel assures us, the treasure that has value in God's sight is that which in this life is accumulated in heaven. But Jesus, Pope Francis says, goes a step further: He joins the treasure to the heart, He creates a relationship between the two terms. This, he adds, is because we have a restless heart, which the Lord made this way to seek Him out:

“The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a treasure that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord, our heart becomes restless for things that simply don't work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . . To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled: it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Lets think about that. What do I have: a tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing? This restlessness of the heart always has to be cured.”

At this point, Pope Francis continues, Jesus speaks about the eye, a symbol of the intentions of the heart that are reflected in the body: a heart that loves makes the body luminous; a wicked heart makes it dark. Our ability to judge things, the Pope says, depends on this contrast between light and darkness, as is shown also by the fact that from a heart of stone . . . attached to worldly treasures, to selfish treasure, can also become a treasure of hatred, come wars . . . Instead this was the final prayer of the Pope through the intercession of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church remembers today let us ask for the grace of a new heart . . . a heart of flesh.”

“All these pieces of the heart that are of stone, may the Lord make them human, with that restlessness, with that good anxiety to go forward, seeking Him and allowing ourselves to be sought by Him. That the Lord might change our hearts! And so He will save us. He will save us from the treasures that cannot help us in the encounter with Him, in service to others, and also will give us the light to understand and judge according to the true treasure: His truth. May the Lord change our heart in order to seek the true treasure and so become people of light, and not of darkness.”

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2013-06-22   Pope Francis: serve the Word of God, not the idolatry of riches and worldly cares

The riches and the cares of the world “choke the Word of God,” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope pointed out that our life is set on three pillars: election, covenant, and promise, adding that we must trust the Father in living in the present without worrying about what will happen.

“No one can serve two masters.” Pope Francis began his homily with the words of Christ in today’s Gospel, where He focuses on the theme of riches and cares. Jesus, the Pope said, “has a clear idea on this subject”: they are “the riches and cares of the world” that choke the Word of God, they are the thorns spoken of in the Parable of the Sower, that choke the seed that has fallen on the ground:

“The riches and cares of the world choke the Word of God and do not allow it to grow. And the Word dies, because it is not cared for: it is choked. In that case you serve riches or you serve cares, but you don’t serve the Word of God. And this also has a temporal sense, because the Parable is somewhat constructed – the discourse of Jesus in the Parable – in time, is it not? Don’t worry about tomorrow, about what you will do tomorrow. . . . And also the Parable of the Sower is built on time: he sows, then the rain comes and it grows. Simply, we remove from time.”

The Pope emphasised that our life is founded on three pillars: the past, the present and the future. The pillar of the past, he explained, “is that of the election of the Lord.” Every one of us can say “the Lord has chosen me, has loved me,” “He has said to me ‘come’,” and with Baptism “he has chosen me to go along a road, the Christian road.” The future, on the other hand, concerns “walking towards a promise”, the Lord “has made us a promise.” Finally, the present “is our response to the God Who is so good that He has chosen me.” The Pope said, “He makes a promise, he proposes a covenant with me, and I make a covenant with Him.” So these are the three pillars: “election, covenant, and promise”:

“The three pillars of the whole story of the Salvation. But when our heart enters into what Jesus explains to us, it takes away time: it takes away the past, it takes away the future, and one is confused in the present. For one who is attached to riches, neither the past nor the future is important; he has everything here. Wealth is an idol. I don’t need a past, a promise, an election: nothing. He who is worried about what will happen, takes away his relation with the future – “but can one do this?” – and the future becomes futuristic, but no, it doesn’t direct you to any promise: you remain confused, you remain alone.”

This is why Jesus tells us we must either follow the Kingdom of God or the riches and cares of the world. The Pope said with Baptism “we are chosen in love” by Him, we have “a Father that has sent us along a road.” And so “even the future is joyful,” because “we are walking towards a promise.” The Lord “is faithful, He does not disappoint” and so we too are called to do “what we can” without disappointment, “without forgetting that we have a Father who chose us in the past.” Riches and cares, he warned, are the two things “that make us forget our past,” that make us live as if we didn’t have a Father. And even our present is a present that doesn’t work”:

“Forgetting the past, not accepting the present, disfiguring the future: that’s what riches and cares do. The Lord tells us: “But be calm! Seek the Kingdom of God, and everything else will come.’ Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to fool ourselves with worries, with the idolatry of riches, and to always remember that we have a Father Who has chosen us; to remember that this Father promises us a good thing, which is walking towards that promise; and having courage to take the present as it comes. Let us ask this grace from the Lord.”

The Holy Father concelebrated Mass with Bishop Arturo González of Santa Clara in Cuba and others. Employees of the Vatican Museums were in attendance at the liturgy.

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2013-06-23     This morning, Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. About 40 apostolic nuncios, who remained in the Vatican after the Pope’s meeting with them on Friday, were present. Commenting on the Sunday Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus asks the Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?”, the Pope underlined that we need to respond to Jesus from the heart, inspired by our veneration for him and from the rock of his love.

In Luke, Jesus asks: “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter responds: “The Christ of God”. The question that Jesus asks in the Gospel of Luke is relevant to us 2,000 years later and cuts straight to the heart, said Pope Francis in his homily, to which we must respond with the humility of a sinner, beyond all ready-made answers.

“We, even we, who are apostles and servants of the Lord need to respond because the Lord asks us: ‘What do you think of me?’ He does it, eh? He does it many times! ‘What do you think of me?’ says the Lord. And we cannot do that which cannot be well understood. ‘But, you are the anointed one! Yes, I read it’. With Jesus, we cannot speak of him as an historic figure, a figure of history. Jesus is living in front of us. This question is asked by a living person. And we have to respond from the heart.”

We are called again today by Jesus to carry out the radical choice made by the Apostles, a total choice, in the logic of “all or nothing”, a journey for which we must be enlightened by a “special grace” to carry out, living always on the solid base of veneration and love for Jesus.

“Veneration and love for his Holy Name. Certainty that he set us on a rock – the rock of his love. And from this love, we give you the answer, we give the answer. And when Jesus asks these questions – ‘Who am I for you?’ – we need to think of this: I was set on the rock of his love. He leads me. I must respond firmly on that rock and under his leadership.”

“Who am I for you?” Jesus asks us. Sometimes we are ashamed to respond to his question, underlined the Pope, because we know that something in us is not right, we are sinners. But it is exactly in this moment that we should trust in his love and respond with that sense of truth, as Peter did on Lake Tabor: “Lord, you know everything”. It is exactly in the moment that we feel like sinners, the Lord loves us a lot, said the Pope. And just as he put Peter, the fisherman, at the head of his Church, so, too, will the Lord do something good with us.

“He is the greatest, he is the greatest! And when we say, from veneration and from love, secure, secure on the rock of his love and guidance: ‘You are the anointed one’, this will do us much good and it will make us move forward with certainty and pick up the cross daily, which is heavy at times. Let us go forward like this, with joy, and asking for this grace: grant to your people, Father, to always live in veneration and love for your Holy Name! And with the certainty that you never deprive of your guidance those whom you have set on the rock of your love!”

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June 24th, 2013   On June 24th, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. John the Baptist. During his daily Mass at the Vatican, the Pope explained that the Church must be like St. John, who is described in the Gospel as 'a voice crying out in the desert.'

POPE FRANCIS
“The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of His Word, of her husband, who is the Truth. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest on Earth. This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself.”
The Pope said that even though St. John could have gained fame and honor, since he was considered by some to be the Messiah, he chose a humiliating death and was faithful to the Lord until the end.

“John seems to be nothing. That is John’s vocation: he negates himself. And when we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful - all believed that he was the Messiah - when we contemplate this life, how it is nullified to the point of the darkness of a prison, we behold a great mystery. We do not know what John’s last days were like. We do not know. We only know that he was killed, his head was put on a platter, as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I don’t think you can lower yourself much more than this, negate yourself much more. That was the end that John met.”
“The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word, her husband, who is the Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest on Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. But I think he never did that. He showed the way, he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret. Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church.”
“This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself. Today in prayer we asked for the grace of joy, we asked the Lord to cheer this Church in her service to the Word, to be the voice of this Word, preach this Word. We ask for the grace, the dignity of John, with no ideas of their own, without a Gospel taken as property, only one Church that indicates the Word, and this even to martyrdom. So be it!”

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June 25, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis explained that God never leaves His people alone and that no-one is ever a Christian by chance. As an example, the Pope talked a reading from the Book of Genesis, where Abram discusses division on earth. The Pope also added that if people know God accompanies them, it makes it easier for them to face difficulties with optimism.

PARTIAL HOMILY

 “Abraham departed his land carrying a promise: his entire journey is a going toward this promise. The way he walked his path is a model for how we ought to walk our own. God called Abraham, a single person, and that one person makes an entire people. If we go to the Book of Genesis, to the beginning, to the creation, we find that God creates the stars, creates the plants, creates the animals, creates the these and the that’s and the others ... But He creates Man in the singular, one. God always speaks in the singular to us, because He has created in his image and likeness. And God speaks in the singular. He spoke to Abraham and gave him a promise and invited him to come out of his land. We Christians have been called one-by-one: none of us is Christian by pure chance. No one.”

“God accompanies us, God calls us by name, God promises us we will have a line of heirs. This is something of  'the surety' of being a Christian. It is not a coincidence, it is a calling - a calling that keeps us going. Being a Christian is a calling of love, friendship, a calling to become a child of God, brother of Jesus, to become fruitful in the transmission of this calling to others, to become instruments of this call. There are so many problems, so many problems, there are difficult times, Jesus had many of His own! But always with that confidence: ‘The Lord has called me. The Lord is like me. The Lord has made me a promise”

“Someone will say, ‘Father, I am a sinner’, but we all are, as everyone knows. The problem is: sinners, go forward with the Lord, go forward with that promise that He has made us, with the promise of fruitfulness, and tell others, recount to others others that the Lord is with us, that the Lord has chosen us and that He does not leave us alone, not ever! That certainty of the Christian will do us good. May the Lord give us, all of us, this desire to move forward, which Abram had, in the midst of all his problems: to go forward with the confidence that He who called me, who promised me so many beautiful things, is with me.”

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Pope Francis Reflects on the Joy of Fatherhood
Also Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgis Priestly Ordination

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2013 - Pope Francis reflected today on the joy of fatherhood during his homily at morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae today. Concelebrating at the Mass was Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, who celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The innate desire to be a father, he said, is ingrained in all men, even priests, in giving their lives and protecting their spiritual children. However, when one lacks this desire, something is missing. “All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate,” the Pope said. “Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life… For us, it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers."

Contemplating on the reading from the book of Genesis, which recounts God’s promise to Abram to give him descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven, the Pope expressed his admiration for Abram, who defending the sacrifice of animals, which was the seal of God’s covenant with him.

"It moves me to picture this ninety year old man with a stick in his hand", defending his sacrifice,” the Holy Father said. "It makes me think of a father defending his family, his children. A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father.”

“The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it’s like an incomplete life: a life that stops half way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: 'Father, Father, Father ...'. They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood."

Directing his words towards Cardinal De Giorgi, the Holy Father compared the prelates 60 years of priestly ministry to that of a father. "I do not know what our dear Salvatore did," but "I'm sure that he was a father." "And this is a sign," he said while pointing to the priests from Palermo who were present. “Now it's up to you” he said, adding: every tree "bears its own fruit, and if it is good, the fruit must be good, right?". So, the Pope concluded lightheartedly , "do not let him look bad ..."

Pope Francis concluded his homily thanking God for the grace of fatherhood in the Church which “is passed from father to son.”

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June 27, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about what it truly means to be a Christian.  He said there are many people who claim to be Christians, but don't really live out their faith. The Pope said, there are two main categories: Those who try to separate Christianity from Christ and those who live out their faith rigidly and without joy. 

POPE FRANCIS

 “In the history of the Church there have been two classes of Christians: Christians of words - those" Lord, Lord, Lord "- and Christians of action, in truth. There has always been the temptation to live our Christianity not on the rock that is Christ. The only one who gives us the freedom to say 'Father' to God is Christ, our rock. He is the only one who sustains us in difficult times, no? As Jesus said: the rain falls, rivers overflow, winds blow, but the rock is safe, words, the words take flight, they are not needed. But this is the temptation of these Christians of words, of a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And this has happened and is happening today in the Church: being Christians without Christ.

And this temptation exists today. Superficial Christians who believe, yes, God, yes Christ, but not ‘everywhere’: Jesus Christ is not the one who gives them their foundation. They are the modern gnostics. The temptation of gnosticism. A 'liquid' Christianity. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the Christian life should be taken so seriously that they end up confusing solidity, firmness, with rigidity. They are rigid! This think that being Christian means being in perpetual mourning.

They do not know  what the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, do not have the freedom of Christians. To put it simply ‘they have no joy.

The former have a ‘superficial’ happiness. The others live in perpetual state of mourning, but do not know what Christian joy is. They do not know how to enjoy the life that Jesus gives us, for they know not to talk to Jesus. They do not feel that they rest on Jesus, with that firmness which the presence of Jesus gives. And they not only have no joy, they have no freedom either. They are the slaves of superficiality, of this life widespread, and the slaves of rigidity, they are not free. The Holy Spirit has no place in their lives,. It is the Spirit who gives us the freedom! Today, the Lord calls us to build our Christian life on Him, the rock, the One who gives us freedom, the One who sends us the Spirit, that keeps us going with joy, on His journey, following His proposals."

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June 28, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about patience. He called on Christians to trust God and His mysterious ways.

Sometimes God intervenes in one's life immediately, he explained, but other times, the virtue of patience is needed. 

POPE FRANCIS

“The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. We too have to show patience: He has it! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of our life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal Himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives - that's for sure! - But often we do not see this. This calls for our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, also has a lot of patience with us.'”

Before ending, he highlighted that just like the Lord is patient, Christians too, have to show patience with God's intervention.

"The Lord always chooses His way to enter into our lives. Often He does so slowly, so much so, we are in danger of losing our 'patience', a little. But Lord, when? 'And we pray, we pray ... And He doesn’t intervene in our lives. Other times, when we think of what the Lord has promised us, that it such a huge thing, we don’t believe it, we are a little skeptical, like Abraham – and we smile a little to ourselves ... This is what it says in the First Reading, Abraham hid his face and smiled ... A bit 'of skepticism:' What? Me? I am almost a hundred years old, I will have a son and my wife at 90 will have a son? '.

How often, when the Lord does not intervene, does not perform, does not do what we want Him to do, do we become impatient or skeptical?

But He does not, He cannot for skeptics. The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. Not only do we have to have patience: He has! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal Himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives - that's for sure! - But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, He also has a lot of patience with us.

Jesus on the Cross, heard them challenging him: 'Come down, come down! Come '. Patience until the end, because He has patience with us. He always enters, He is involved with us, but He does so in His own way and when He thinks it's best. He tells us exactly what He told Abraham: Walk in my presence and be blameless', be above reproach, this is exactly the right word. Walk in my presence and try to be above reproach. This is the journey with the Lord and He intervenes, but we have to wait, wait for the moment, walking always in His presence and trying to be beyond reproach. We ask this grace from the Lord, to always walk in His presence, trying to be blameless'. 

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2013-07-02    Pope at Mass: Courage in spite of our weaknesses

Christians are called to be courageous in their weakness. We must recognize that we are weak and that, at times, we have to flee from sin without nostalgia, without looking back. We must not let temptation or fear keep us from God. Instead we must learn that ‘he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day!’ This was the lesson at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass on Tuesday.

Acting with hesitancy, always looking back, being afraid to turn to the Lord, the grace of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis took his cue from the daily readings to dwell on four "possible attitudes in conflict situations, in difficult situations." The first attitude is that of the "slowness" of Lot. He decided to leave the city before it was destroyed, but he does so slowly. The angel tells him to run away, but he carries within an '"inability to detach himself from evil and sin." The Pope noted that we want to go out, we are determined, "but there is something that pulls us back," and so Lot begins to negotiate even with the angel.

"It’s so hard to cut ties with a sinful situation. It is hard! Even in a temptation, it's hard! But the voice of God tells us this word: 'Escape! You cannot fight there, because the fire, the sulfur will kill you. Escape!' St. Therese of the Child Jesus taught us that sometimes, in some temptations, the only solution is to escape and not be ashamed to escape; to recognize that we are weak and we have to escape. And our popular wisdom, in its simplicity, says as much, somewhat ironically: 'he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.' Escaping to go forward along the path of Jesus."

The Pope continued that the angel then says "do not look back," to escape and keep your eyes faced forward. Here, he said, is some advice on how to overcome our nostalgia of sin. Think of the People of God in the desert, he stressed: "They had everything, promises, everything." And yet "they were nostalgic for the onions of Egypt" and this "longing made them forget that they ate those onions on the table of slavery." There was the "longing to go back, to return." And the advice of the angel, the Pope observed, "is wise: Do not look back! Move ahead!" We must not do as Lot's wife, we must "leave behind all nostalgia, because there is also the temptation of curiosity."

"Faced with sin, we must escape without any nostalgia. Curiosity does not help, it hurts! 'But, in this sinful world, what can we do? What is this sin like? I would like to know . . . ' No, do not! This curiosity will hurt you! Run away and do not look back! We are weak, all of us, and we must defend ourselves. The third situation is on the boat: it is fear. When there is great upheaval at sea, the boat was covered with the waves. 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' they say. Fear! Even that is a temptation of the devil: to be afraid to move forward on the path of the Lord.”

There is a temptation that says it is "better to stay here," where I'm safe. "But this – warned the Pope - is the slavery of Egypt." "I fear moving forward - the Pope said - I'm afraid of where the Lord will bring me.” Fear, however, "is not a good counselor." Jesus, he added, "so many times, said: 'Do not be afraid.' Fear does not help us." The fourth attitude "is the grace of the Holy Spirit." When Jesus calms the agitated sea, the disciples on the boat are filled with awe. "Faced with sin, nostalgia, fear," he said, we must always turn to the Lord.

"Looking to the Lord, contemplating the Lord. This gifts us the beautiful wonder of a new encounter with the Lord. 'Lord, I am being tempted: I want to stay in this situation of sin, Lord, I am curious to know about these things, Lord, I'm afraid.' And they looked to the Lord: 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' And wonder at a new encounter with Jesus followed. We must not be naive nor lukewarm Christians, but brave, courageous. We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. Do not be afraid and always look to the Lord! ".

Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and was attended by a group of priests and employees of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and a group from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

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July 03, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis focused on sin. In his homily, the Pope explained that when faced with it, Christians are tempted to harbor their grief. Rather, the Pope said, people should be courageous, flee from sin and ask the Lord for guidance.

The Mass was concelebrated by Portuguese Cardinal Manuel Monteiro De Castro, the Vatican's Major Penitentiary.

 “It’s so hard to cut ties with a sinful situation. It is hard! Even in a temptation, it's hard! But the voice of God tells us this word: 'Escape! You cannot fight there, because the fire, the sulfur will kill you. Escape!' St. Therese of the Child Jesus taught us that sometimes, in some temptations, the only solution is to escape and not be ashamed to escape; to recognize that we are weak and we have to escape. And our popular wisdom, in its simplicity, says as much, somewhat ironically: 'he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.' Escaping to go forward along the path of Jesus.”

“Faced with sin, we must escape without any nostalgia. Curiosity does not help, it hurts! 'But, in this sinful world, what can we do? What is this sin like? I would like to know . . . ' No, do not! This curiosity will hurt you! Run away and do not look back! We are weak, all of us, and we must defend ourselves. The third situation is on the boat: it is fear. When there is great upheaval at sea, the boat was covered with the waves. 'Save us, Lord,we are lost!' they say. Fear! Even that is a temptation of the devil: to be afraid to move forward on the path of the Lord.”

“Looking to the Lord, contemplating the Lord. This gifts us the beautiful wonder of a new encounter with the Lord. 'Lord, I am being tempted: I want to stay in this situation of sin, Lord, I am curious to know about these things, Lord, I'm afraid.' And they looked to the Lord: 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' And wonder at a new encounter with Jesus followed. We must not be naive nor lukewarm Christians, but brave, courageous. We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. Do not be afraid and always look to the Lord!”

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July 03, 2013.     During one of his last public Masses before starting his summer vacation, the Pope reflected on the life of St. Thomas, whose feast day is celebrated on Wednesday. He explained that the apostle was full of doubts, before seeing Jesus Resurrected and directly touching His wounds. To encounter God, the Pope said,  it's necessary, to kiss the wounds of Jesus through those who are hungry, poor, sick and incarcerated.

The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who announced Pope Francis' election to the world back in March.

 “He was stubborn. But the Lord wanted exactly that, a stubborn person to make us understand something greater. Thomas saw the Lord, was invited to put his finger into the wounds left by the nails; to put his hand in His side and he did not say, 'It's true: the Lord is risen'. No! He went further. He said: 'God'. The first of the disciples who makes the confession of the divinity of Christ after the Resurrection. And he worshiped Him”

“In the history of the Church there have been some mistakes made on the path towards God. Some have believed that the Living God, the God of Christians can be found on the path of meditation, indeed that we can reach higher through meditation. That's dangerous! How many are lost on that path, never to return. Yes perhaps they arrive at knowledge of God, but not of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. They do not arrive at that. It is the path of the Gnostics, no? They are good, they work, but it is not the right path. It’s very complicated and does not lead to a safe harbor.”

“We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress - the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. 'Oh, great! Let's set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help '. That's important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed.”

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July 04, 2013.   During his daily Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis reflected on a Gospel from St. Mark, where a disabled person is healed by Jesus. While explaining the miracle, the Pope said, the issue isn't the miracle itself, but God's power to forgive sins. By doing so, he explained, the Lord makes us His true children, granting freedom and courage.

The Pope's Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Placidus Toppo, the archbishop of Ranchi in India.

 “This reconciliation is the re-creation of the world: this is the most profound mission of Jesus. The redemption of all of us sinners; and Jesus does this not with words, not with gestures, not walking along the street. No! He does it with His flesh! It is He Himself, God who became one of us, a man, to heal us from within, [He came] to us sinners.”

“This is the greatest miracle. And what does Jesus accomplish with this? He make us sons, with the liberty of sons. Because of what Jesus has done, we can say ‘Father.’ [If He had not done so] we would never have been able to say this: ‘Father!’ And to say ‘Father’ with so good and so beautiful an attitude, with liberty! This is the great miracle of Jesus. We, who were slaves of sin – He has made us all free, He has healed us at the very core of our existence. We would do well to think about this, and to think how beautiful it is to be children, and how beautiful this ‘liberty of children’ is, because the child is in the house, and Jesus has opened the doors of the house to us . . . Now we are in the house!”

“That is the root of our courage: I am free, I am a child . . . The Father loves me, and I love the Father! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to truly understand this work of His, what God has done in Him: God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, entrusting to us the word of reconciliation and the grace of bearing this word of reconciliation onward, forcefully, with the liberty of children. We are saved in Jesus Christ! And no one can take from us this ‘identity card.’ This is how I identify myself: as a child of God! What a beautiful identity! Civil status: we are free! Amen.”

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July 6, 2013    On the day his first encyclical was being presented in a conference at the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. While reflecting upon the Gospel's passage about the calling of St. Matthew, the Pope said that Jesus wasn't concerned with those who believed. Rather, he sought sinners and even feasted with them, and never deprived anyone of His forgiveness.  

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, celebrated Mass with the Pope on the national feast day of Venezuela.

 “Matthew feels stunned; he hears Jesus’ invitation: ‘Follow me! Follow me!’ At that moment, this man is full of joy but he’s also doubtful because he’s also very attached to money. It just took a moment – and we see how (the artist) Caravaggio was able to capture it: that man who was looking, but also, with his hands, was taking the money. Only a moment in which Matthew says yes, leaves everything and goes with the Lord. It is the moment of mercy received and accepted: ‘Yes I’m coming with you!’ And it is the first moment of the meeting, a profound spiritual experience.” 

“This work must be nurtured with the memory of that first encounter, of that feast. And this is not one moment: up to the end of life. Memory. Memory of what? Of those events! Of that encounter with Jesus who has changed my life! Who had mercy! Who was so good to me and who told me also: ‘invite your friends who are sinners so we can have a feast!’ That memory gives Matthew strength and to all of them to forge ahead. ‘The Lord has changed my life! I met the Lord!’ Remember always. It is like blowing on the embers of that memory, no? Blowing to keep the fire alive, always.” 

“And Jesus, continuing this habit, feasts with the sinners and offers forgiveness to sinners. ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.’ Those who consider themselves righteous, they can cook in their own stew! He came for us sinners and this is beautiful. Let us be regarded by Jesus’ mercy; let us celebrate and remember this salvation!”

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2013-07-06   Pope Francis: the Holy Spirit renews our lives      In his Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said being Christian “does not mean doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit.” The Pope emphasised that even in the life of the Church there are “ancient structures” to be renewed without fear.

“New wine in new wineskins.” In his homily, Pope Francis dwelt on the renewal that Jesus brings. “The doctrine of the law,” he noted, “is enriched, renewed with Jesus . . . Jesus makes all things new.” He said Jesus brings a “true renewal of the law, the same law, but more mature, renewed.” He explained that what Jesus requires of us is greater than the requirements of the law. The law allows us to hate our enemy; Jesus, on the other hand, tells us to pray for him. This, then, is “the Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches”: a renewal above all “in our heart.” We think that “being Christian means doing this, or doing that; but it is not so:  

“Being Christian means allowing oneself to be renewed by Jesus in this new life. ‘I am a good Christian, I go to Mass every Sunday from 11 til noon, I do this, I do that’. . . as if it were a collection. But the Christian life is not a collage of things. It is a harmonious whole, harmonious, and the Holy Spirit does it! He renews all things: He renews our heart, our life, and makes us live differently, but in a way that takes up the whole of our life. You cannot be a Christian of pieces, a part time Christian. Being a part-time Christian simply doesn’t work! The whole, everything, full-time. The Spirit accomplishes this renewal. Being Christian ultimately means, not doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit – or, to use the words of Jesus, becoming new wine.” 

The newness of the Gospel, he continued, is really new, “but in the same law that comes in the history of Salvation.” And this newness, he said, “goes beyond us,” it renews us and “renews the structures.” This is why Jesus says that new wineskins are necessary for new wine:  

“In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures . . . It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons. The Church has always done this! From the very first moment, we remember the first theological battle: was it necessary to carry out all of the Jewish practices in order to be Christian? No! They said no! The gentiles could enter as they are: gentiles . . . Entering into the Church and receiving Baptism. A first renewal of the structures. . . . And so the Church always goes forward, giving space to the Holy Spirit that renews these structures, structures of the churches. Don’t be afraid of that! Don’t be afraid of the newness of the Gospel! Don’t be afraid of the newness that the Holy Spirit works in us! Don’t be afraid of the renewal of structures!” 

The Church, he said, “is free: the Holy Spirit carries her forward.” The Gospel teaches this: “the liberty to always find the newness of the Gospel in us, in our life, and even in our structures.” The Pope then re-iterated the importance of the “freedom to choose new wineskins for this newness.” He added that the Christian is free, “with that liberty” that Jesus gives us. A Christian “is not a slave of habits, of structures. . . . The Spirit carries [the Christian] forward.” The Pope then recalled that on the day of Pentecost, the Madonna was there with the disciples:  

“And where the mother is, the children are safe! All of them! Let us ask for the grace of not being afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of not being afraid of the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings, of not being afraid to let go of the passing structures that imprison us. If we are afraid, we know that the Mother is with us. And like children who are a little afraid, let us go to her – and she, as the ancient antiphon says, – ‘will protect us with her cloak, with her motherly protection.’ Amen. 

A group of Swiss Guard recruits took part in Saturday's liturgy, the last group to take part in the Pope's daily Mass before the summer break.

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Pope's Address on Anniversary of Pope John XXIII's Death

VATICAN CITY, June 04, 2013  - Here is a translation of Pope Francis' address to a group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Bergano who visited St. Peter's Basilica on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

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Dear friends of the Diocese of Bergamo,

I am pleased to welcome you here, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, in this place that is home to every Catholic. I affectionately greet your Pastor, Bishop Francesco Beschi, and thank him for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of all.

Exactly fifty years ago, just at this moment, Blessed John XXIII left this world. Those who, like me, [are of] a certain age, retain a vivid memory of the commotion that spread everywhere in those days: St. Peter's Square had become a sanctuary in the open, day and night welcoming the faithful of all ages and social conditions, in trepidation and prayer for the Pope's health. The whole world had recognized in Pope John a pastor and a father: a shepherd because [he was] father. What made him such? How could he reach the hearts of so many different people, even many non-Christians? To answer this question, we can refer to his episcopal motto, oboedientia et pax: obedience and peace. These words, noted the then-Archbishop Roncalli on the eve of his episcopal ordination, are [in a way] my story and my life. (Journal of a Soul, retreat in preparation for consecration as bishop, 13-17 March 1925).

I would like to begin from peace, because this is the most obvious aspect that, which people perceived in Pope John: Angelo Roncalli was a man who was able to communicate peace; a natural, serene, friendly, peace; a peace that, with his election to the Pontificate, was manifested to all the world and [came to be called his] goodness. This was undoubtedly a hallmark of his personality, which enabled him to build strong friendships everywhere and in particular that stood out in his ministry as Representative of the Pope, which he carried out for nearly three decades, often in contact with environments and worlds far removed from that Catholic universe in which he was born and formed. It was in those environments that he proved an effective weaver of relationships and a good promoter of unity, inside and outside the Church community, open to dialogue with Christians of other Churches, with members of the Jewish and Muslim [traditions] and with many other men of good will. In fact, Pope John conveyed peace because he had a mind deeply at peace, the fruit of a long and challenging work on himself, an effort that has left abundant traces in [his autobiography], Journal of a Soul. There we can see the seminarian, the priest, the bishop Roncalli struggling with the path to the gradual purification of the heart. We see him, day by day, careful to recognize and mortify the desires that come from his own selfishness, careful to discern the inspirations of the Lord, allowing himself to be guided by wise spiritual directors and inspired by masters such as Saint Francis de Sales and St. Charles Borromeo. Reading those writings, we truly see a soul taking shape, under the action of the Holy Spirit working in His Church.

Here, then, we come to the second and decisive word: obedience. If peace was the outward hallmark, obedience constituted for [Pope John] the inner disposition: obedience, in fact, was the instrument with which to achieve peace. Firstly, [obedience] meant to [Pope John] something very simple and concrete: performing that service in the Church, which his superiors asked of him, without seeking anything for himself, with no escape from anything that was required of him, even when it meant leaving his homeland, dealing with worlds unknown to him, remaining for many years in places where the presence of Catholics was very scarce. This willingness to be led, like a child, built his priestly path, of which you are well aware: from secretary of Bishop Radini Tedeschi and at the same time teacher and spiritual father in the diocesan seminary; to [his service as] Papal Representative in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, France; [his election as] Shepherd of the Venetian Church, and finally as Bishop of Rome. Through this obedience, the priest and bishop Roncalli, however, also lived a more profound faithfulness, which could be called, as he would say, abandonment to Divine Providence. He always recognized, in faith, that through that path of life apparently driven by others, led by their tastes or on the basis of their own spiritual sensitivity, God was designing a project of His own.

Even more profoundly, through this daily abandonment to the will of God, the future Pope John lived a purification, which allowed him to detach himself completely from himself, and to adhere to Christ, thus allowing the holiness to emerge, which the Church has [now] officially recognized. Jesus tells us, Whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Lk 9:24) Here is the true wellspring of Pope Johns, of the peace that he sowed throughout the world. Here is the root of his holiness: in this, his evangelical obedience.

This, then, is a lesson for all of us, and also for the Church of our time. If we let ourselves be led by the Holy Spirit, if we mortify our selfishness to make room for the love of the Lord and to His will, then we will find peace, then we will be builders of peace and peace will spread around us. Fifty years after his death, the wise and fatherly guidance of Pope John, his love for the Churchs tradition and awareness of the constant need of renovation, the prophetic intuition of the convocation of the II Vatican Council and the offering of his life for its success, remain as milestones in the history of the Church of the twentieth century and as a beacon of light for the journey that lies ahead.

Dear people of Bergamo, you are rightly proud of the Good Pope, a shining example of faith and virtues for whole generations of Christians from your land. Keep his spirit, continue to deepen the study of his life and his writings, but above all, imitate his holiness. From heaven, may he continue to accompany with love your Church, which he so loved in life, and may he obtain for her from the Lord the gift of many holy priests, vocations to religious and missionary life, as well as to family life and for lay commitment [to service] in the Church and in the world. Thank you for your visit! I cordially bless you

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General Audience    On the Environment

VATICAN CITY, June 05, 2013  -

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today I would like to dwell on the issue of the environment, as I have already had the chance to do on several occasions. It's timely also on account of today's World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which is launching a strong reminder of the need to eliminate waste and the destruction of food.

When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thought goes to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, where it states that God placed man and woman on Earth to cultivate and guard it (cf. 2:15). And questions come to my mind: what does it mean to nurture and cherish the Earth? Are we truly cultivating and guarding creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb "to cultivate" brings to mind the care that the farmer has for his land so that it gives fruit and can be shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Nurturing and cherishing creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us; It is part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone. And Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task given to us by God the creator requires grasping the rhythm and logic of creation. We are often driven by pride of dominating, owning, manipulating, exploiting; we do not "guard" it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift to be cared for. We are losing the attitude of amazement, of contemplation, of listening to creation; and so we fail to read in it what Benedict XVI calls "the rhythm of the story of the love of God with man". Why is this? Because we think and live in a horizontal way, we have turned away from God, we do not read his signs.

But the "cultivating and guarding" doesn't include only the relationship between us and the environment, between man and the created, it also concerns human relationships. The Popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are experiencing a moment of crisis; we see it in the environment, but mostly we see it in man. The human being is at stake: here is the urgency of human ecology! And the danger is serious because the cause of the problem is not superficial, but profound: it's not just a matter of economics, but of ethics and anthropology. The Church has stressed this several times; and many say: yes, that is right, it's true ... but the system continues as before, because what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a lack of financial ethics. So men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: this is "scrap culture", the culture of the disposable. If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but the poverty, needs and dramas of so many people end up being seen as normal... If on a winter night, in nearby via Ottaviano, for example, a person dies, that is not news. If in many parts of the world there are children who do not have enough to eat, that's not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so! Yet these things become normal for us: that some homeless people die of cold in the street doesn't make news. Conversely, a ten-point drop in the stock market in some cities, is a tragedy. A person who dies is not a news story, but a ten point drop in the stock market is a tragedy! So people are discarded, as if they were trash.

This "scrap culture" is becoming a common mentality, infecting everyone. Human life, the person are no longer perceived as the primary value to respect and protect, especially if they are poor or disabled, if they are no longer needed – like the unborn child – or are no longer of use – like the elderly person. This scrap culture has also made us insensitive to waste, including food waste, which is even more reprehensible when in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become accustomed to the superfluous and the daily waste of food, which we are sometimes no longer able to value correctly, as its value goes far beyond mere economic parameters. Note well, though, that the food we throw away is as if we had stolen it from the table of the poor or the hungry! I invite everyone to reflect on the problem of the loss and waste of food to identify ways and methods that, addressing this issue seriously, may be a vehicle for sharing and solidarity with the neediest.

A few days ago, on the feast of Corpus Christi, we read the story of the miracle of the loaves: Jesus feeds the crowd with five loaves and two fishes. And the end of the passage is important: « And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. » (Lk 9:17). Jesus asks his disciples that nothing be lost: no waste! And there is this fact of the twelve baskets: why twelve? What does it mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, symbolically it represents all the people. And this tells us that when food is shared equally, with solidarity, nobody is devoid of the necessary, each community can meet the needs of the poorest. Human ecology and environmental ecology go hand in hand.

I would like then for all of us to take seriously the commitment to respect and cherish creation, being attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposal, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.

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Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Our Audience today coincides with World Environment Day, and so it is fitting to reflect on our responsibility to cultivate and care for the earth in accordance with God’s command (cf. Gen 2:15). We are called not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family. These two dimensions are closely related; today we are suffering from a crisis which is not only about the just management of economic resources, but also about concern for human resources, for the needs of our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty, and especially for the many children in our world lacking adequate education, health care and nutrition. Consumerism and a "culture of waste" have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger. I ask all of you to reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family.

Holy Father (in Italian):

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore and the United States. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the People of God (General Audience)

VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ address during his weekly General Audience held in St. Peter’s Square today.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to briefly highlight another term with which the Second Vatican Council has defined the Church, as "the People of God " (cf. Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, 9; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 782). And I do so with some questions, on which everyone can reflect.

1. What does it mean to be "People of God"? Firstly it means that God does not belong specifically to any people; because it is He who calls us, summons us, invites us to be part of his people, and this call is addressed to us all, without distinction, because God's mercy «wants salvation for everyone» (1Tm 2,4).. Jesus does not say to the Apostles and to us to form an exclusive group, an elite. Jesus says: go and make disciples of all Nations (cf. Mt 28,19). Saint Paul states that in the people of God, in the Church, "there is no longer Jew nor Greek ... since you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3,28). I would also say to those who feel far away from God and the Church, the one who is fearful or indifferent, who thinks he can no longer change: the Lord calls you to join his people and does so with great respect and love!

2. How does one become a member of this people? It is not through physical birth, but through a new birth. In the Gospel, Jesus says to Nicodemus that one must be born from above, out of the water and the spirit to enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. Jn 3:3-5). It is through Baptism that we are introduced to this people, through faith in Christ, a gift from God that must be nurtured and grown throughout our life. Let us ask ourselves: How can I grow the faith that I received in my Baptism?

3. What is the law of God's People? It is the law of love, love for God and love for your neighbor according to the new commandment which the Lord has left us (cf. Jn 13:34). A love, however, that is not sterile sentimentalism or something vague, but that which recognizes God as the only Lord of life and, at the same time, receives one’s neighbor as a true brother, overcoming divisions, rivalries, misunderstandings, selfishness; both things go together. How much we still have to do in order to live this new law concretely, that of the Holy Spirit who acts in us, that of charity, of love! When we look in the newspapers or on television, there are so many wars between Christians: but how can this happen? In the people of God, how many wars! In the neighborhoods, in the workplace, how many wars out of envy, jealousy! Even in the family itself, how many internal wars! We must ask the Lord to make us understand this law of love. How beautiful it is to love each other as true brothers. How beautiful! Let's do one thing today. Maybe we all have people we like and others we dislike; maybe many of us are a little angry with someone; then, say to the Lord: Lord, I am upset with this person or that. I will pray for him and for her. Praying for those with whom we are angry is a good step in this law of love. Do we do it? Let's do it today!

4. What is the mission of the People of God? To bring into the world the hope and salvation of God: to be a sign of God's love which calls everyone to have a friendship with him; to be the yeast that leavens the dough, salt that gives flavor and protects from corruption, light that illuminates. All around us, just by opening a newspaper – as I said- we can see that the presence of evil is there, the Devil acts. But I would like to say out loud: God is stronger! And I would like to add that the sometimes dark reality, marked by evil, can change, if we first bring the light of the Gospel, above all with our lives. If in a stadium, think of here in Rome at the Olympic Stadium, on a dark night, one person turns on a light, you can just barely see it, but if more than 70,000 spectators each turns on his own light, the stadium lights up. Let's make our life a light of Christ; together we will bring the light of the Gospel into the entire reality.

5. What is the end of this people? Their end is the Kingdom of God, begun here on Earth by God himself, and that must be extended until its completion, when Christ will appear (cf. Lumen gentium, 9). The aim then is full communion with the Lord, to enter into his own divine life, where we will live the joy of his love without measure.

Dear brothers and sisters, to be Church, to be God's People, according to the great design of the Father's love, it's like being the leaven of God in our humanity, it means announcing and bringing the salvation of God into this world of ours, which is often lost, in need of answers that encourage, that give hope, that provide new vigor in the journey. May the Church be both a place of God's mercy and hope, where everyone can feel welcome, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live according to the good life of the Gospel. And to make the other feel welcome, loved, forgiven, encouraged, the –Church must have its doors open so that everyone can enter. And we must go out through those doors to announce the Gospel.

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as the People of God, called to new life in Christ. We become part of this people through God’s gift of faith and spiritual rebirth in the waters of Baptism. Our law is the twin commandment of love for God and neighbour. Our mission is to be a leaven of the hope born of God’s love in our world wounded by sin and evil. Amid the darkness that so frequently surrounds us, we are called to be so many points of light, illumining all reality and showing the way to a better future. God’s goodness is stronger than any evil! Our destination is the Kingdom of God which Christ inaugurated on earth and which will attain its fullness in the joy of heaven. This is what it means for the Church to be God’s People, an essential part of his loving plan for our human family. May the Church always be a place where everyone can encounter God’s mercy and feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.

Pope Francis (in Italian):

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the newly-ordained priests of the Diocese of Brescia, accompanied by their families, as well as the community of the Seminary of Naples, invoking the Lord's continued assistance, so that everyone may answer their call faithfully. I greet the pilgrimage of the Diocese of Assisi - Nocera Umbra - Gualdo Tadino, led by Archbishop Mons. Domenico Sorrentino. An affectionate thought goes to representatives of Agricultural Confederation of Bisceglie, thanking them for their welcome gift, destined to the charitable works of the Pope. I greet, then, the faithful of the parishes, associations and various groups that are so numerous at this meeting. Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and newlyweds.

For all I wish that you may experience the comforting presence of the Lord and be, in everyday life, instruments of his merciful love.

APPEAL

Today we celebrate worldwide the World Day Against Child Labor, with particular reference to the exploitation of children in domestic work: a disgraceful phenomenon that is constantly increasing, particularly in poor countries. There are millions of children, mostly baby girls, who are victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often leads to abuse, ill-treatment and discrimination.

I very much hope that the international community can initiate even more effective measures in addressing this real plague. All children should be able to play, study, pray and grow, in their own families, in a harmonic context, of love and serenity. It is their right and our duty. A serene childhood allows children to look towards life and the future with confidence. Woe unto those who suffocate their joyous momentum of hope!

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The Holy Father’s General Audience, Wednesday, June 19, 2013  

Unity in the Body of Christ  

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

Today I will focus upon another expression with which the Second Vatican Council indicates the nature of the Church: that of the body, the Council says that the Church is the Body of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, 7).

I would like to start from a text of the Acts of the Apostles which we know well: the conversion of Saul, who will then be called Paul, one of the greatest evangelists (cf. Acts 9:4-5). Saul was a persecutor of Christians, but while he is on the road leading to the city of Damascus, suddenly a light envelops him, he falls to the ground and hears a voice saying "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? '. He asks: "Who are you, Lord?", And the voice answers: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (v. 3-5). This experience of St. Paul tells us how deep the union between we Christians and Christ Himself. When Jesus ascended into heaven he did not leave us orphans, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit, our union with Him has become even more intense. The Second Vatican Council says that Jesus " communicating His Spirit, Christ made His brothers, called together from all nations, mystically the components of His own Body" (Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 7).

The image of the body helps us to understand this deep Church-Christ bond, which St. Paul has developed especially in the First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. chap. 12). First, the body brings our attention to a living reality. The Church is not an charitable, cultural or political association, but a living body, that walks and acts in history. And this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, feeds and supports it. This is a point I want to emphasize: if the head is separated from the rest of the body, the whole person cannot survive. So it is in the Church, we must remain bound ever more deeply to Jesus. But not only that: just as the body needs the lifeblood to keep it alive, so we must allow Jesus to work in us, that His Word guide us, that His presence in the Eucharist nourish us, animate us, that His love gives strength to our love of neighbor. And this always! Dear brothers and sisters, let us remain united to Jesus, let us trust in Him, direct our life according to His Gospel, nourish ourselves with daily prayer, listening to the Word of God, participation in the Sacraments. 

And here I come to a second aspect of the Church as the Body of Christ. St Paul says that as members of the human body, although different and many, we form one body, as we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13). In the Church, therefore, there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions, there is no dull uniformity, but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. But there is communion and unity: we are all in a relation to each other and we all come together to form one living body, deeply connected to Christ. Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians; it means remaining united to the Pope and the Bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and also means overcoming personal interests and divisions, in order to understand each other better, to harmonize the variety and richness of each member; in a word, to love God and the people who are next to us more, in the family, in the parish, in the associations. In order to live a Body and its limbs must be united! Unity is beyond all conflict. Always! Conflicts, when they don’t end well, separate us from each other, they separate us from God. Conflict can help us to grow but can also divide us. We must not travel the path of division, of conflict among us, no we must all be united – with our differences – but united because that is the path of Jesus!

Unity is beyond all conflict. Unity is a grace that we must ask of the Lord so he may save us from the temptations of the division, from internal struggles and selfishness, from gossip. How much damage gossip does! How much damage! Never gossip about others, never!. How much damage divisions among Christians, being partisan, narrow interests causes to the Church,! Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity. But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics,...in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask God to help us to be members of the Body of the Church always deeply united to Christ, help us not to hurt the Body of the Church with our conflicts, our divisions, selfishness: help us to be living members bound to each other by a single power, that of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).

Below the English language summary

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as the Body of Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, received in Baptism, we are mystically united to the Lord as members of one body, of which he is the head. The image of the mystical body makes us realize the importance of strengthening our union with Christ through daily prayer, the study of God’s word and participation in the sacraments. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that the Body of Christ, while one, is made up of a variety of members. Within the communion of the Church, and in union with the Pope and Bishops, each of us has a part to play, a gift to share, a service to offer, for building up the Body of Christ in love. Let us ask the Lord to help us reject every form of divisiveness and conflict in our families, parishes and local Churches. At the same time, let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to others, to promote unity and to live in harmony as members of the one Body of Christ, inspired by the gift of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.

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On The Church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit  (General Audience, Year of Faith)

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square today.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning! Today I would like briefly mention another image that helps us to illustrate the mystery of the Church: that of the temple (cf. Second Vat. Ecum. Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 6).

What does the word Temple make us think of? It makes us think of a building, a construction.

Specifically, many people's minds go immediately to the story of the People of Israel narrated in the Old Testament. In Jerusalem, the great Temple of Solomon was the site of the encounter with God in prayer; inside the temple there was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of the presence of God in the midst of the people; and in the Ark were the Tables of the Law, the manna and the rod of Aaron: a reminder of the fact that God was always present in the history of his people, he had accompanied them on their journey, he had guided their steps. The temple calls to mind this history: we too, when we go to the temple [church] must remember this story, each one of us his own history, how Jesus found me, how Jesus has walked with me, how Jesus loves me and blesses me.

Here, what was foreshadowed in the old Temple, is fufilled by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Church: the Church is the "House of God", the place of his presence, where we can find and meet the Lord; the Church is the Temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, who animates, guides and sustains it. If we ask ourselves: where can we meet God? Where we can enter into communion with him through Christ? Where can we find the light of the holy spirit that lights up our lives? The answer is: in the People of God, among us, who are the Church. Here we will find Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father.

The ancient temple was built by the hands of men: they wanted to "give a house" to God, to have a visible sign of his presence in the midst of the people. With the incarnation of the Son of God, Nathan's prophecy to King David is fulfilled (cf. 2 Sam 7:1-29): it is not the king, nor are we the ones who "give a house to God", but it is God himself who "builds his house" to come to live in our midst, as St. John writes in the prologue of his Gospel (cf. 1:14). Christ is the living Temple of the Father, and Christ himself builds his "spiritual home", the Church, made not of physical stones but of "living stones", which are us. The Apostle Paul says to the Christians of Ephesus: "You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also come built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God” (Eph 2:20-22). How beautiful this is! We are the living stones of God's building, deeply united to Christ, who is the cornerstone, and is also a keystone among us. What does this mean? It means that we are the temple, we are the living Church, the living temple and when we are together the Holy Spirit, too, is present, who helps us to grow as Church. We are therefore not isolated, but we are the People of God: this is the Church!

And it is the Holy Spirit with his gifts, who designs this variety, the richness in the Church and unites everything and everyone, so as to constitute a spiritual temple, where we offer not sacrifices, but ourselves, our lives (cf. 1 Pt 2:4-5). The Church is not an interweaving of things and interests, but is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the temple where God works, the temple where each of us with the gift of baptism is a living stone. This tells us that no one is useless in the Church, and if someone occasionally says to another: “Go home, you’re useless”, this is not true, because no one is useless in the Church, we are all necessary to build this Temple! No one is secondary. No one is the most important in the Church; we are all equal in God’s eyes. Someone among you could say: “Listen, Mr. Pope, you’re not equal to us”. Yes, I am like each one of you, we are equal, we are brothers! Nobody is anonymous: we all form and build the Church. This also invites us to reflect on the fact that if the brick of our Christian life is lacking, something is missing from the beauty of the Church. Some say, “I have nothing to do with the Church”, but in this way, the brick of one life is missing from this beautiful Temple. No one can leave, we must all bring to the Church our life, our heart, our love, our thought, our work: all of us together.

I would like then for us to ask ourselves: how can we live our being Church? Are we living stones or are we, so to speak, tired, bored, indifferent stones? Have you seen how unattractive it is to see a tired, bored, indifferent Christian? A Christian of this kind is no good, a Christian must be alive, joyful about being Christian; he must live this beauty of being part of the People of God which is the Church. Do we open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit to be an active part in our community, or do we close in on ourselves, saying: "I have so many things to do, it's not my job"?

May the Lord give us his grace, his strength, so that we may be deeply united to Christ, the cornerstone, the keystone of our lives and the whole life of the Church. Let us pray that, animated by his spirit, we may always be living stones of his Church.

 

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as God’s temple. The great temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, a place of prayer and encounter with the Lord, was a prefigurement of the Church. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son who dwelt among us, is himself the definitive and living temple where we encounter God’s presence in our midst. Christ makes us, the members of his mystical body, "living stones" for the construction of a "holy temple in the Lord" (Eph 2:21), in which we exercise our baptismal priesthood by offering spiritual sacrifices. The Holy Spirit, in the variety of his gifts, unites us and enables us to contribute to the building up of the Church in holiness. In this great work, each of us has a part to play; each of us, as a "living stone", is needed for the growth and the beauty of God’s holy temple. Let us ask the Lord to help us to take an ever more active part in the Church’s life and mission, guided by the Holy Spirit and with Jesus as our cornerstone.

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Francis' Letter to Delegate for Legionaries of Christ
"Please extend a word of encouragement on my behalf"

ROME, June 26, 2013  - To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Velasio De Paolis

In an audience on May 27th, you explained the progress of the ministry of Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ which my beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI, entrusted to you on June 16, 2010.

I would like to thank you for having brought me up to speed on what you have done in fulfilling this delicate task. As well, I would like to assure you that I have carefully considered what you presented to me in the report you sent with your letter on May 10th, as well as the content of the prior reports and the material regarding the Apostolic Visitation which took place in 2009 and 2010.

I confirm that your mandate will last until the celebration of the extraordinary Chapter of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, [over] which you will preside, and which will be held at the beginning of 2014. The Chapter’s main tasks will be the election of a new Government for the Institute and the approval of the new Constitutions, which you will then take care to send me in order to examine them according to standard procedure. These will be fundamental steps in the path towards the authentic and profound renewal of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and, indirectly, as well for the activity of the whole Regnum Christi Movement.

Please keep me up to date on the process of preparation for the Chapter. I am invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit so that He will inspire in all the religious a greater dedication to the task of discernment regarding their vocation within the Church and the world.

I extend warm thanks for this task to which you have so generously committed yourself. Please extend a word of encouragement on my behalf to all the Legionaries of Christ, to the Consecrated Men and Women of the Regnum Christi Movement and the lay people committed in it. I assure them all a place in my prayers and I send a special Apostolic Blessing to all, entrusting them to the care of Mary, Mother of the Church.

From the Vatican, June 19, 2013.

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Pope's Address to International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis to the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations on Monday.

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Dear elder brothers and sisters, Shalom!

With this greeting, dear also to the Christian tradition, I am pleased to welcome a delegation of representatives of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations.

I greet Cardinal Koch, as well as the other members and officials of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, with whom you have continued a regular dialogue for more than forty years. The twenty-one meetings held until today have certainly helped to reinforce mutual understanding and the links of friendship between Jews and Catholics. I know that you are preparing the next meeting in October in Madrid and that it will have as its theme Challenges to Faith in Contemporary Society. Thank you for your commitment to this!

In these first months of my ministry I have already had the chance to meet important personalities of the Jewish world, but this is the first time I have talked with an official group of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities, and so I cannot fail to mention what was solemnly stated by the Second Vatican Council in paragraph 4 of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, as it remains for the Catholic Church a key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people.

In that Council text, the Church recognizes that "the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses and prophets". And, with regard to the Jews, the Council recalls the teaching of Saint Paul, who wrote "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" and who also firmly condemned hatred, persecution and all forms of anti-Semitism. Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!

The fundamental principles expressed by the Declaration have marked the path of greater awareness and mutual understanding trodden these last decades by Jews and Catholics, a path which my predecessors have strongly encouraged, both by very significant gestures and by the publication of a series of documents to deepen the thinking about theological bases of the relations between Jews and Christians. It is a journey for which we must surely give thanks to God.

Having said that, this is only the most visible element of a whole movement to be found here and there throughout the world, as I know from personal experience. During my time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I had the joy of maintaining relations of sincere friendship with leaders of the Jewish world. We talked often of our respective religious identities, the image of man found in the Scriptures, and how to keep an awareness of God alive in a world now secularized in many ways. I met with them on various occasions to discuss the challenges which Jews and Christians both face. But above all, as friends, we enjoyed each other’s company, we were all enriched through encounter and dialogue, and we welcomed each other, and this helped all of us grow as people and as believers.

This has happened in many other places in the world, and these friendly relations are in a way the basis for the development of a more official dialogue. So I encourage you to follow this path trying, as you do so, to involve younger generations. Humanity needs our joint witness in favour of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God, and in favour of peace which is above all God’s gift. As the prophet Jeremiah said, "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future of hope" (29:11).

With this word, Peace – Shalom – I conclude my words, asking for your prayers and assuring you of my own.

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Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee Meeting Report

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2013  - The Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee held its 19th Meeting in Rome, on June 18 and 19, 2013, corresponding to Shaban 9 and 10, 1434, presided over for the Catholic side by His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and presided over for the Muslim side by H.E. Prof. Dr Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue.

The theme of the meeting was: Believers confronting materialism and secularism in society.

After listening to the papers presented by Catholic and Muslim scholars and exchanging views about the above mentioned theme, the participants agreed upon the following:

1. Christianity and Islam affirm the inseparability and complementarity between the material and the spiritual domains. Our responsibility as believers is to reconcile these dimensions of life.

2. Many people today suffer from the loss of spiritual and religious roots; this phenomenon weakens both the inner and moral dimensions of individuals and societies.

3. The world today is facing many kinds of crises. We recognize our common responsibility as believers in God to do all that is possible to protect vulnerable people at this time.

4. The participants were honored and pleased to be received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, who encouraged them to continue their efforts on the path of respectful and fruitful dialogue between believers for the peace and prosperity of our world.

5. We strongly condemn in particular what is happening in Syria: killing of many innocent persons, aggression against the sacred character of human life and against the dignity of persons; therefore we urge the Regional and International Organisations to do what is possible to stop the bloodshed, according to International Law.

6. The Committee will hold its next meeting in Tatwan (Marocco); it will be preceded by a preparatory event. The Muslim side will undertake to organize it.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
President

Pontifical Council
for Interreligious Dialogue

Prof. Dr Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie
President

International Islamic Forum
for Dialogue

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Pope's Telegram on Death of Cardinal Stanislaw Kazimierz Nagy, S.C.I

VATICAN CITY, June 05, 2013 - Here is the translation of the telegram sent by Pope Francis to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwsz, Archbishop of Krakow on the death of Cardinal Stanislaw Kazimierz Nagy, S.C.I, Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala who passed away at the age of 91.

* * *

LORD CARDINAL STANISLAW DZIWISZ

ARCHBISHOP OF KRAKOW

On hearing the news of the death of the venerable Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy, I wish to express to you, to the entire diocesan community, to the family members of the worthy prelate, and to the Congregation of Dehonian Fathers my heartfelt participation in their sorrow, affectionately thinking of this dear brother who generously served the Gospel and the Church, especially in the academic world, which appreciated this studious and experienced theology teacher. I recall with gratitude his fruitful collaboration, warm friendship, and mutually shared esteem with Blessed John Paul II, as well as his intense ecumenical activity. I pray earnestly that the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, welcome this faithful servant and eminent man of the Church to eternal peace and joy and I wholeheartedly impart to all who mourn his loss the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.”

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Francis' Address to Cor Unum Coordinating Meeting for Syrian Relief
"Let the weapons be silent!"

VATICAN CITY, June 05, 2013 - Here is Pope Francis' address to the participants of the Coordinating Meeting of various Catholic relief organizations who are aiding refugees of the current crisis in Syria. The meeting was promoted by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

* * *

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank you for coming together and for all the humanitarian work which you are doing to aid the suffering peoples of Syria and nearby countries owing to the conflict there. I encouraged the Pontifical CouncilCor Unum to promote this meeting designed to coordinate the activities carried out by Catholic charitable organizations in the region. I wish to express my gratitude to Cardinal Sarah for his greetings. I offer a special welcome to those who have come from the Middle East, especially those representing the Church in Syria.

The Holy See’s concern for the crisis in Syria, and in a particular way, for the people, often defenceless, who are suffering as a result of it, is well known. Benedict XVI repeatedly called for a ceasefire and for a search for a resolution through dialogue in order to achieve a profound reconciliation between sides. Let the weapons be silent! Furthermore, he wished to express his personal closeness this past November, when he sent Cardinal Sarah into the region, accompanying this gesture with the request to "spare no effort in the search for peace" and manifesting his concrete and fatherly solicitude with a donation, to which the Synod Fathers had also contributed in October.

The destiny of the Syrian people is a concern that is close to my heart also. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace: "above all for dear Syria", I said, "for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there be before a political solution to the crisis is found" (His Holiness Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, 31 March 2013).

In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace. In recent weeks the international community has reaffirmed its intention to promote concrete initiatives to bring about a fruitful dialogue designed to bring an end to the war. These initiatives are to be encouraged, and it is hoped that they will lead to peace. The Church feels herself called to give her humble yet concrete and sincere witness to the charity which she has learned from Christ, the Good Samaritan. We know that where there is suffering, Christ is present. We cannot pull back, precisely from those situations where the suffering is greatest. Your presence at this coordinating meeting demonstrates your will to faithfully continue this precious work of humanitarian assistance, in Syria and in neighbouring countries which generously receive those who have fled from the war. May your timely and coordinated work be an expression of the communion to which it gives witness, as the recent Synod on the Church in the Middle East suggested. To the international community, besides the pursuit of a negotiated solution to the conflict, I ask for the provision of humanitarian aid for the displaced and refugees, and Syrians who have lost their homes, showing in the first place the good of each human person and guarding their dignity. For the Holy See the work of various Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the upbuilding of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts. To this also the Holy See lends its efforts: to the building of a future of peace for a Syria in which everyone can live freely and express themselves in their own particular way.

My thoughts at this moment also go to the Christian communities who live in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The Church supports the members of these communities who today find themselves in special difficulty. These have the great task of continuing to offer a Christian presence in the place where they were born. And it is our task to ensure that this witness remain there. The participation of the entire Christian community to this important work of assistance and aid is imperative at this time. And let every one of us, let each of us think of Syria. What great suffering, what great poverty, what great grief experienced by Jesus who suffers, who is poor, who is expelled from his homeland. It is Jesus! This is a mystery, but it is our Christian mystery. Let us contemplate Jesus suffering in the inhabitants of beloved Syria.

I offer my gratitude once again for this initiative and I invoke upon each one of you abundant divine blessings. This heavenly benediction extends in a particular way to the beloved faithful who live in Syria and to all Syrians who have been forced to leave their homes because of the war. May all of you here present tell the beloved people of Syria and the Middle East that the Pope accompanies them and is near to them. The Church will not abandon them!

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Pope's Address to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

VATICAN CITY, June 06, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which is dedicated to training priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

* * *

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear priests, dear sisters, friends

I extend a warm welcome to all of you! I affectionately greet your President, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and I thank him for the kind words he addressed to me on your behalf, remembering the welcome visits that I have made in the past to your Casa. I also remember the friendly insistence with which Bishop Stella convinced me, now two years ago, to send to the Academy a priest of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires! Archbishop Stella knows how to knock at the door! The problem was on my end, because I did not find a priest to send, and I chose a marathoner . . . I sent him. A grateful thought goes also to his colleagues and to the Sisters and staff, who offer their generous service in your community.

Dear friends, you are preparing for a particular ministry of commitment, which will place you in the direct service of the Successor of Peter, of his charism of unity and communion, and of his solicitude for all the Churches. The work that is done in the Pontifical diplomatic service requires, like any type of priestly ministry, a great inner freedom. Live these years of your preparation with commitment, generosity, and greatness of soul, so that this freedom can really take shape in you!

But what does it mean to have this interior freedom? First of all it means being free from personal projects, being free from personal projects: from some of the concrete ways in which perhaps one day, you had thought of living your priesthood, from the possibilities of planning for the future; from the perspective of remaining for a long time in a your place of pastoral action. It means freeing yourself, in some way, even with respect to the culture and mindset from which you came, not by forgetting it, much less by denying it, but by opening yourself up, in charity, to understanding different cultures and meeting with people even from worlds very far from your own.

Above all, it means vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the Church, taking care to always put in the first place not your own self-fulfillment, or the recognition that you could get whether inside and outside of the ecclesial community, but the greater good of the cause of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the mission that has been entrusted to you. This freedom from ambition or personal aims, for me, is important, its important! Careerism is leprosy! Leprosy! Please, no careerism! For this reason, each of you must be willing to integrate your vision of the Church, however legitimate, every personal idea or assessment, within the horizons seen by Peter, of his particular mission at the service of communion and the unity of the flock of Christ, of his pastoral charity which embraces the whole world, and that, thanks also to the action of the Pontifical diplomatic service, wishes to make itself present especially in those places, often forgotten, where the needs of the Church and of humanity are greatest.

In a word, the ministry for which you are preparing because you are being prepared for a ministry, not a profession: it is a ministry! This ministry calls you to go out of yourself, to a detachment from self that can only be achieved through an intense spiritual journey and a serious unification of your life around the mystery of the love of God and of the inscrutable plan of His call. In the light of the faith, we are able to live the freedom from our own projects and our own will, not as a cause of frustration or emptying, but as an opening to the superabundant gift of God, that makes our priesthood fruitful. Living the ministry in service to the Successor of Peter and to the Church to which you are called may appear demanding, but it will allow you, so to say, to be and to breathe within the heart of the Church, of its catholicity. And this constitutes a special gift, because, as Pope Benedict recalled when speaking to your community, wherever there is openness to the objectivity of catholicity, there is also the principle of authentic personalization (Speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, 10 June 2011).

Have great care for the spiritual life, which is the source of inner freedom. Without prayer, there is no interior freedom. You can make a precious treasure of the instruments of conforming your priestly spirituality to Christ Himself, cultivating a life of prayer and making your daily work the gymnasium of your sanctification. Here I am happy to recall the figure of Blessed John XXIII, the fiftieth anniversary of whose death we celebrated a few days ago: his work in the Pontifical diplomatic service was one of the places, and not the least significant, in which his sanctity was formed. Rereading his writings, one is impressed by the care he always took in guarding his soul, in the midst of the most varied ecclesial and political occupations. Here was born his inner freedom, the joy that he conveyed outwardly, and the effectiveness of his pastoral and diplomatic action. As he said in his Journal of a Soul, "the more mature I become in years and in experience, the more I recognize that the surest means for my personal sanctification and for the greater success of my service to the Holy See, remains the vigilant effort to reduce everything principles, speeches, positions, affairs, to the greatest simplicity and calmness; in my vineyard, always to prune that which is simply useless foliage . . . and to go directly to that which is truth, justice, charity, above all charity. Any other [way] of doing things, is nothing but posturing and grasping at personal affirmation, which betrays itself and becomes cumbersome and ridiculous." (Cinisello Balsamo 2000, p. 497). He wanted to prune his vineyard: to chase out the foliage, to prune. . . And some years later, joined to the end of his work in the Pontifical diplomatic service, when he was already Patriarch of Venice, he wrote, "Now I find myself completely in the ministry of souls. Truly I have always held that for an ecclesiastic, diplomacy, so to say, should always be permeated by a pastoral spirit; otherwise, it counts for nothing, and makes a holy mission ridiculous (ibid., pp. 513-14)." But this is important! Listen well: When in the Nunciature there is a secretary or a nuncio that doesnt go along the way of sanctity, and gets involved in so many forms, in so many kinds of spiritual worldliness, he looks ridiculous, and everyone laughs at him! Please don't be ridiculous: either [be] saints or go back to the diocese and be a pastor, but don't be ridiculous in the diplomatic [service], in the diplomatic life, where there is so much danger of becoming worldly in spirituality.

I would also like to say something to the Sisters thank you for coming! Who undertake their daily service among you with a religious and Franciscan spirit. They are good Mothers who accompany you with prayer, with their simple and essential words, and above all by the example of loyalty, dedication and love. Along with them I would like to thank the lay staff who work in Casa. Their hidden, but important presence, allows you to spend your time in the Academy with serenity and commitment.

Dear priests, I hope that you will undertake the service to the Holy See with the same spirit as Blessed John XXIII. I ask you to pray for me, and I commend you to the safekeeping of the Virgin May and of Saint Anthony the Abbot, your patron. May the assurance of my prayers and of my blessing which I cordially extend to all your loved ones go with you. Thank you!

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Pope Speaks With Students from Jesuit Schools in Italy and Albania
Forgoes Prepared Text And Gives Opportunity For Students to Ask Questions

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 07, 2013  - Pope Francis met with over 9000 students from Jesuit schools in Italy and Albania at the Paul VI Audience Hall this morning. The atmosphere was lively as the Pope began the audience with a moment of spontaneity. Instead of reading from a prepared text, the Holy Father felt it was better to have a dialogue with the students.

“I've prepared a text but it's five pages and that's a little long," the Pope said. "Let's do this: I'll give it to the Provincial Father and Fr. Federico Lombardi [director of the Holy See Press Office] so that you all can have it written and then some of you will ask me questions and I'll answer them. That way we can talk.”

Several students were given the opportunity to ask unscripted questions directly to the Holy Father. One student approached and asked a question regarding personal doubts that he had and what he could to help him grow in faith.

“Journeying is an art," the Pope replied, "because if we're always in a hurry, we get tired and don't arrive at our journey's goal. If we stop, if we don't go forward and we also miss the goal. Journeying is precisely the art of looking toward the horizon, thinking where I want to go but also enduring the fatigue of the journey, which is sometimes difficult."

"There are dark days, even days when we fail, even days when we fall. [Sometimes] one falls but always think of this: don't be afraid of failures. Don't be afraid of falling. What matters in the art of journeying isn't not falling but not staying down. Get up right away and continue going forward. This is what's beautiful: this is working every day, this is journeying as humans."

The Pope went on to say that to arrive at one's goals in the journey of life, it is "bad" to walk alone. The Holy Father also said that one should walk in community, with friends, with loved one's to help "us to arrive precisely at that goal."

A girl from a Jesuit run elementary school asked Pope Francis if he still has contact with his friends from grade school. The Pope responded humorously, "But I've only been Pope for two and a half months."

“My friends are 14 hours away from here by plane, right? They're far from here, but I want to tell you something, three of them came to find me and greet me and I see them and they write to me and I love them very much. You can't live without friends, that's important.”

When asked by another school girl if he ever desired to be Pope, the Holy Father asked: "Do you know what it means if someone doesn't love themselves very much?"

“Someone who wants, who has the desire to be Pope doesn't love themself," the Pope replied. "But I didn't want to be Pope.”

"Becoming a Little Poorer, Like Jesus"

The students' questions reflected much of the curiosity that many have of the Pope's style since his election earlier this year. Even more surprising, was the Holy Father's openness in answering their questions without reservations.

One girl asked a particular question on everyone's mind: "Why did you forsake the wealth of the papacy and live at the Domus Sanctae Marthae rather than the Apostolic Palace apartments?"

“It's not just about wealth," the Holy Father replied. "For me it's a question of personality. I need to live among people and if I lived alone, perhaps rather isolated, it wouldn't be good for me. A professor asked me this question: 'Why don't you go live there?' and I answered, 'Listen, professor, it's for psychiatric reasons.' Because, that's my personality. That apartment [in the Apostolic Palace] isn't so luxurious either, don't worry. But I can't live alone, do you understand?"

"And well, I believe that, yes, the times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry. We all have to think if we can become a little poorer, all of us have to do this. How can I become a little poorer in order to be more like Jesus, who was the poor Teacher?”

“It's not a question of my personal virtue," the Pope concluded his response. "It's just that I can't live alone. All the rest, not having so many things, is about becoming a little poorer”.

One of the final questions answered by Pope Francis was from a young man who asked how can today's youth deal with "the material and spiritual poverty that exists in the world."

“First of all I want to tell you something," the Pope said, "Tell all you young persons: don't let yourselves be robbed of hope. Please, don't let it be stolen from you. The worldly spirit, wealth, the spirit of vanity, arrogance, and pride [...] all these things steal hope."

"Where do I find hope? In the poor Jesus, Jesus who made himself poor for us. And you spoke of poverty. Poverty calls us to sow hope. This seems a bit difficult to understand. I remember Fr. Arrupe [Father General of the Jesuits from 1965-1983] wrote a letter to the Society's centers for social research. At the end he said to us: 'Look, you can't speak of poverty without having experience with the poor.' You can't speak of poverty in the abstract: that doesn't exist."

Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus," the Holy Father concluded, "in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures. Go forward, look there upon the flesh of Jesus. But don't let well-being rob you of hope, that spirit of well-being that, in the end, leads you to becoming a nothing in life. Young persons should bet on their high ideals, that's my advice. But where do I find hope? In the flesh of Jesus who suffers and in true poverty. There is a connection between the two.”

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Text for Francis' Meeting With Students of Jesuit Schools
"To educate is not a profession but an attitude, a way of being"

VATICAN CITY, June 07, 2013  - Here is a translation of the text that Francis had prepared for his meeting today with students from Jesuit schools. Instead of delivering this text, he chose instead to make the meeting into an informal q-and-a session with the students, and requested that this text be provided for publication. A transcription and translation of the q-and-a session is forthcoming.

* * *

Dear Boys and Girls, Dear Young People!

I am happy to receive you with your families, educators and friends of the great family of the Italian and Albanian Jesuit Schools. I give you all my affectionate greeting: welcome! I feel truly “en famille” with you all. And the coincidence of our meeting with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reason for particular joy.

I would like to tell you, first of all, something that refers to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, our founder. In the autumn of 1537, going to Rome with a group of his first companions, he wondered: If they ask us who we are, what will we answer? The answer came spontaneously: “We’ll say we are the 'Society of Jesus!'” (Fontes Narrativi Societatis Iesu, vol. 1, pp. 320-322). An exacting name, to indicate a very close relationship of friendship, of total affection for Jesus, in whose footsteps they wished to follow. Why did I recount this event to you? Because Saint Ignatius and his companions had understood that Jesus taught them how to live well, how to live a life that has profound meaning, that gives enthusiasm, joy and hope. They understood that Jesus is a great teacher of life and a model of life, and that he did not only teach them, but also invited them to follow him on this path.

Dear young people, if I now asked you the question: Why do you go to school, what would you answer me? There would probably be many answers according to the sensibility of each one. However, I think that it all could be summarized by saying that school is one of the educational environments in which one grows to learn to live, to become adult and mature men and women, capable of walking, of following the path of life. How does school help you to grow? It helps you not only in developing your intelligence, but it helps for an integral formation of all the components of your personality.

Following what Saint Ignatius teaches, the principal element in school is to learn to be magnanimous. Magnanimity: this virtue of the great and the small (Non coerceri maximo contineri minimo, divinum est), which makes us always look at the horizon. What does it mean to be magnanimous? It means to have a big heart, to have greatness of mind, it means to have great ideals, the desire to do great things to respond to what God asks of us and, precisely because of this, to do well the things of each day, all daily actions, commitments, meetings with persons. To do the little things of every day with a great heart open to God and to others. Hence it is important to take care of the human formation aimed at magnanimity. School does not only widen your intellectual but also your human dimension. And I think that in a particular way Jesuit schools are careful to develop the human virtues: loyalty, respect, fidelity, commitment.

I would like to pause on two fundamental values: liberty and service. First of all, be free persons! What do I mean? Perhaps it is thought that liberty is to do whatever one wishes, or venture into limit-experiences to try intoxication and overcome boredom. This isn’t liberty! Liberty means to be able to reflect on what we do, to know how to appreciate what is good and what is bad, behavior that makes one grow means to choose always the good. We are free for the good. And in this fear not to go against the current, even if it isn’t easy! To be free to always choose the good is demanding, but it will make you persons who have a backbone, who are able to face life; persons with courage and patience (parresia and ypomone). The second word is service. In your school you take part in various activities that habituate you not to shut yourselves in on yourselves or in your small world, but to be open to others, especially to the poorest and neediest, to work to improve the world in which we live. Be men and women with others and for others, real champions in the service of others.

To be magnanimous with interior liberty and a spirit of service, spiritual formation is necessary. Dear children, dear youths, love Jesus Christ ever more! Our life is an answer to his call and you will be happy and will build your life well if you are able to respond to this call. Sense the presence of the Lord in your life. He is close to every one of you as companion, as friend, who knows how to help and understand you, who encourages you in difficult moments and never abandons you. In prayer, in dialogue with Him, in the reading of the Bible, you will discover that He is really close. And also learn to read the signs of God in your life. He always speaks to us, also through the events of our time and of our everyday existence. It is up to us to listen to him.

I don’t wish to be too long, but I would like to address a specific word also to the educators: to the Jesuits, to the teachers, to the workers of your schools and to parents. Do not be discouraged in face of the difficulties that the educational challenge presents! To educate is not a profession but an attitude, a way of being. To educate it is necessary to come out of oneself and to be in the midst of young people, to support them in the stages of their growth, put yourselves by their side. Give them hope, optimism for their journey in the world. Teach them to see the beauty and goodness of creation and of man, who always has the imprint of the Creator. But above all be witnesses with your life of what you communicate. An educator – Jesuit, teacher, worker, parent – transmits knowledge, values with his words, but will be incisive for children if he accompanies his words with his witness, with his coherence of life. Without coherence it’s not possible to educate! You are all educators; there are no delegates in this field. Hence collaboration in the school can and must be the catalyzer, the place of encounter and convergence of the entire educational community with the sole objective of forming, of helping to grow as mature, simple, competent and honest persons, who are able to love with fidelity, who are able to live life as response to the vocation of God, and their future profession as service to society. To the Jesuits I would like to say that it is important to nourish their commitment in the educational field. Schools are a precious instrument to give a contribution to the journey of the Church and of the entire society. Hence, the educational field is not limited to the conventional school. Encourage yourselves to seek new non-conventional ways of educating according to “the needs of places, of times and of persons.”

Finally, a greeting to all former students present, to representatives of the Italian schools of the Faith and Joy network, which I know well because of the great work it does in South America, especially among the poorest classes. And a particular greeting to the delegation of the Albanian College of Scutari, which after long years of repression of religious institutions, since 1994 has taken up again its activity, receiving and educating Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim children and also some students born in agnostic family contexts. Thus the school becomes a place of dialogue and serene confrontation, to promote attitudes of respect, listening, friendship and a spirit of collaboration.

Dear friends, I thank you all for this meeting. I entrust you to the maternal intercession of Mary and I accompany you with my blessing: may the Lord be always close to you, lift you from your falls and push you to grow and make ever loftier choices “with great spirit and liberality,” with magnanimity. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.

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On the Mercy of Christ

VATICAN CITY, June 09, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitiation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the greatest human expression of divine love. It was just on Friday, in fact, that we celebrated the solemnity of the Heart of Christ, and this feast sets the tone for the whole month. Popular piety greatly values symbols and the Heart of Jesus is the symbol par excellence of God’s mercy; but it is not an imaginary symbol, it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which flows the salvation of all humanity.

In the Gospels we find various references to the Heart of Jesus, for example, in the passage in which Christ himself says: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened; I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves, and learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). Then there is John’s account of Christ’s death, which is fundamental for this theme. St. John, in fact, bears witness to to what he saw on Calvary, that is, that a soldier, when Jesus was already dead, pierced his side with a lance and from that wound blood and water poured out (cf. John 19:33-34). John recognized in that apparently fortuitous sign the fulfillment of the prophecies: from the Heart of Jesus, the Lamb immolated on the cross, forgiveness and life flows forth for all men.

But Jesus' mercy is not only a sentiment, it is a force that gives life, that revives man! Today’s Gospel says this too in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is entering Nain, a Galilean village, at the same time that a funeral is taking place: a young man is being carried on the bier, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately comes to rest upon the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her the Lord immediately felt great compassion for her” (7:13). This “compassion” is God’s love for man, it is mercy, that is, God’s attitude in the encounter with human misery, with our indigence, our suffering, our anxiety. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: mothers, in fact, experience a singular reaction in the face of suffering children. This is how God loves us Scripture says.

And what is the fruit of this love, this mercy? It is life! Jesus says to the widow of Nain: “Do not weep!” and then he calls the dead man and he awakens as from sleep (7:13-15). Let us think about this, it is beautiful: God’s mercy gives man life, it brings him back from death. The Lord always looks upon us with mercy; let us not forget it, he always looks upon us with, he awaits us with mercy. Let us not be afraid to approach him! He has a merciful heart! If we show him our inner wounds, our sins, he will always forgive us. He is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus!

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her immaculate heart, the heart of a mother, shared in God’s “compassion” as far as possible, especially in the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. Help us, Mary, to be meek, humble and merciful with our brothers.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made these remarks:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Krakow 2 Polish religious sisters are being beatified: Zofia Czeska Maciejowska, who in the early part of the 17th century founded the Congregation of the Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Malgorzata Lucja Szewczyk, who in the 19th century founded the Congregation of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sorrowful Mother of God. With the Church that is in Krakow we offer thanks to God!

I greet with affection all the pilgrims present today: the parish groups, families, school children, associations, movements. Greetings to all of you!

I greet the faithful who have come from Mumbai, India.

I greet the Movement of Family Love of Rome; the confraternities and the volunteers of the Shrine of Mongiovino near Perugia; the Franciscan Youth of Umbria; the “House of Charity” from Lecce; the faithful of the province of Modena, whom I encourage in reconstruction; and the faithful of Ceprano. I greet the pilgrims from Ortona, where the remains of the Apostle Thomas are venerated. They have made a journey “from Thomas to Peter”: thank you!

Today let us not forget God’s love, Jesus’ love: he looks upon us, he loves us and awaits us. He is all heart and mercy. Let us go to Jesus with confidence, he will always forgive us.

Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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Pope Francis' Message to the German National Eucharistic Congress

VATICAN CITY, June 09, 2013 - Here is the translation of the message sent by Pope Francis sent to Archbishop Joachim Meisner of Cologne and Archbishop Robert Zollisch, President of the German Bishops' Conference on the occasion of the National Eucharistic Congress in Cologne.

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To our venerable brothers

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

Archbishop of Cologne

and Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

President of the German Bishops’ Conference

With the motto “To whom shall we go, Lord?” (John 6:68) Catholics from Germany and nearby countries are gathering together now for the National Eucharistic Congress in Cologne. This event situates itself in this city’s long tradition of veneration of the Eucharist. Cologne was one of the first to celebrate the Feast of “Corpus Domini,” from its inception in the 13th century, with processions of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and was the site of the World Eucharistic Congress in 1909. So, I gladly send from Rome Cardinal Josef Cordes as my special envoy to show my deep spiritual communion with German Catholics, and to express the universal communion of the Church. May the heavenly Father grant to all the participants abundant fruits of grace from the veneration of Christ in the Eucharist.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” With this question, in the face of many who misunderstood Jesus, who wanted selfishly to profit from him, St. Peter is the spokesman of his faithful followers. The disciples do not seek the worldly payoff of those who were satiated (cf. John 6:26) and who, nevertheless, worked for bread that does not last (cf. John 6:27). Of course, Peter too knows hunger; for a long time he was unable to find the bread that filled him. Then he met the man from Nazareth. He followed him. Now he knows his Master not only from hearsay. Being with him every day Peter has developed a trust without reservations. This is faith in Jesus; it is not without reason that Peter expects the longed for “life in abundance” from the Lord (cf. John 10:10).

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” We too, who belong to the Church today, pose this question. Even if it is more hesitant on our lips than on Peter’s, our answer, like that of the Apostle, can only be the person of Jesus. Yes, he lived 2000 years ago. But we can encounter him in our own time when we listen to his Word and are near to him in a special way in the Eucharist. Vatican Council II calls it the “sacred action par excellence,” adding that “no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (“Sacrosanctum Concilium,” 7). May the Holy Mass never become a superficial routine for us! May we draw more and more from its profundity! It is precisely the Mass that inserts us in Christ’s immense work of salvation, to sharpen our spiritual vision by his love: by his “prophecy in act” with which, at the Last Supper, he initiated the gift of self on the cross; by his irrevocable victory over sin and death, which we boldly and festively proclaim. “We need to learn how to live the Holy Mass,” Bl. John Paul II said once to young mean at a Roman seminary who had asked him about the deep concentration with which he celebrated the sacred liturgy (Visit to the Pontificio Collegio Germano Ungarico, Oct. 18, 1981). “Learn to live the Holy Mass”! We are helped to do this by pausing in adoration before the eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” Lastly, this question is posed by certain of our contemporaries, who – with lucidity or obscure presentiment – are in search of the Father of Jesus Christ. The Redeemer wants to meet them through us, who, thanks to our Baptism, have become his brothers and sisters, and who, in the Eucharist, have received the power to participate with him in his mission of salvation. With our life and our words we must proclaim to them that which we have seen together with Peter and the Apostles: “Lord you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Our testimony will enflame them as we have been enflamed by Christ, All of us, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity have the task of bringing God to the world and the world to God.

Encountering Christ, giving ourselves to Christ, proclaiming Christ – these are the pillars of our faith, which are concentrated in the focal point of the Eucharist. The celebration of the Eucharistic Congress during the “Year of Faith” proclaims with renewed joy and certainty: the Church’s Lord lives in her. With my cordial greeting I bestow from my heart to all of you the Apostolic Benediction.

From the Vatican, May 30, 2013, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Francis

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Francis' Video Message to '10 Squares for 10 Commandments'
"The Ten Commandments come from a God who has created us for love, from a God who has forged a close alliance with humanity, a God who only wills the good for man"

VATICAN CITY, June 10, 2013  - Here is a translation of the text from a video message sent by Pope Francis to the "10 Squares for 10 Commandments" initiative, sponsored by the Charismatic Renewal.

The Charismatic Renewal hosted the event in the context of the 40th anniversary of the movement's establishment in Italy. The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and the Italian episcopal conference collaborated in the initiative.

* * *

Good evening all!

I am happy to join you, who are participating in the main Squares of Italy, in this rereading of the Ten Commandments. A project called “When Love Gives Meaning to Your Life,” on the art of living through the Ten Commandments given by God not only to Moses but also to us, to the men and women of all times. Thanks to those in charge of Renewal in the Holy Spirit – they are good these <people> of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, congratulations! – who organized this praiseworthy initiative in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and the Italian Episcopal Conference. Thank you, to all those who contributed with generosity to the realization of this special project of the Year of Faith. Let’s ask ourselves now: What meaning do these Ten Words have for us? What do they say to our time, agitated and confused, which seems to want to do without God?

The Ten Commandments are a gift of God. The word “commandment” is not fashionable; it reminds the man of today of something negative, the will of someone who imposes limits, who puts obstacles to life. And unfortunately history, including recent <history>, is marked by tyrannies, ideologies, logics that have imposed and oppressed, which have not sought man’s good, but rather power, success, profit. But the Ten Commandments come from a God who has created us for love, from a God who has forged a close alliance with humanity, a God who only wills the good for man.

Let us trust God! Let us trust in Him! The Ten Commandments point out a path to follow, they also constitute a sort of “ethical code” for the building of a just society, to the measure of man. How much inequality there is in the world! How much hunger for food and for truth! How much moral and material poverties derive from the rejection of God and from putting so many idols in His place! Let us allow ourselves to the guided by these Ten Words that illumine and orientate the one who seeks peace, justice and dignity. The Ten Commandments indicate a path of liberty, which finds its fullness in the law of the Spirit written not on stone tablets, but in the heart (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:3). Written here are the Ten Commandments! It is essential to recall when God gave the people of Israel, through Moses, the Ten Commandments. At the Red Sea the people experienced great liberation. They touched concretely the power and fidelity of God, of the God who renders us free. Now, on Mount Sinai, God Himself indicated to His people and to all of us the way to remain free, a path that is etched in man’s heart as a universal moral law (cf. Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:1-22). We must not see the Ten Commandments as limitations to liberty. No, they are not this, but we must see them as indications for liberty. They are not limitations but indications for liberty! They teach us to avoid the slavery to which the many idols reduce us that we build ourselves – we have experienced this so many times in history and we are experiencing it also today. They teach us to open ourselves to a dimension that is larger than the material, to live respect for persons, overcoming the avidity for power, for possession, for money and to be honest and sincere in our relations, to protect the whole of creation and to nourish in our planet lofty, noble and spiritual ideals. To follow the Ten Commandments means to be faithful to ourselves, to our more authentic nature, and to walk towards the genuine liberty that Christ taught in the Beatitudes (cf. Matthew 5:3-12.17; Luke 6:20-23). The Ten Commandments are a law of love. Moses went up the mountain to receive the tablets of the law from God. Jesus does the opposite: the Son of God abases Himself; he descends into our humanity to indicate to us the profound meaning of these Ten Words. Love the Lord with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole strength and your neighbor as yourself (cf. Luke 10:27).

This is the most profound meaning of the Ten Commandments: the commandment of Jesus that bears within it all the commandments, the Commandment of Love. That is why I say that the Ten Commandments are Commandments of Love. Here is the heart of the Ten Commandments: the Love that comes from God and that gives meaning to life, love that makes us live not as slaves but as true sons, love that animates all our relations: with God, with ourselves – we often forget this – and with others. True liberty is not to follow our egoism, our blind passions, but to love, to choose what is good in every situation. The Ten Commandments are not a hymn to “no,” but to “yes.” A “yes” to God, a “yes” to Love, and because I say “yes” to Love, I say “no” to non-Love, but the “no” is a consequence of that “yes” that comes from God and makes us love.

Let us rediscover and live the Ten Words of God! Let us say “yes” to these “ten ways of love,” made perfect by Christ, to defend man and guide him to true liberty! May the Virgin Mary accompany us on this path. I impart from my heart my Blessing upon you, upon your dear ones, and upon your cities. Thank you all!

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Clergy Congregation Prefect's Letter to Seminarians for Feast of Sacred Heart
"In the light of these first magisterial teachings of Pope Francis, I invite you to consider your life as a gift of God"

VATICAN CITY, June 10, 2013 -

LETTER TO SEMINARIANS

ON THE OCCASION OF THE DAY FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF PRIESTS

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

7 June 2013

Dearest Seminarians,

On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate most significantly the day for the sanctification of priests and, as you are in the Seminary to respond in the most fitting way possible to your vocation, it is important for me to send you this letter, with great affection, so that you may feel involved and, as such, remember this important occasion.

We contemplate together today the origin of the divine vocation. The Holy Father has emphasised firmly the love in which those who are Priests of Christ and of the Church must participate. In his homily at his first Chrism Mass (28 March 2013), Pope Francis said “This I ask you: be shepherds, with the ‘odour of the sheep’”. By this striking image, the Successor of Peter invites us to have a strong and solid love for the People of God, a love which – as the same Pontiff has noted – is not fed from purely human sources, nor is it reinforced by techniques of self-persuasion. It is the personal encounter with the Lord; it is keeping alive the knowledge of having been called by Him, who gives the truly greater supernatural strength to be Priests in the image of the Good Shepherd of all, Christ Jesus. But in order to be such tomorrow, you have to prepare yourselves today. In very clear words, Pope Francis has referred to the primacy of grace in the priestly life: “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimise the power of grace” (ibidem).

For the disciple walking with Christ, walking in grace, means taking on with spiritual joy the weight of the priestly cross. We hear again the Holy Father teaching about this: “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly” (Homily at the Holy Mass with the Cardinals, 14 March 2013). On the contrary, to live our ministry as a service to Christ crucified, prevents us from understanding the Church as a human organisation “a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord” (ibidem).

In the light of these first magisterial teachings of Pope Francis, I invite you to consider your life as a gift of God and, at the same time, a task which has been entrusted to you, not simply by men but – albeit by way of the necessary mediation by the Church – ultimately by the Lord himself, who has a plan for your life and for the lives of the brothers and sisters whom you will be called to serve.

It is necessary to view the whole of our life in terms of a divine call, and also of a generous human response. This involves cultivating within ourselves the vocational sense, which interprets life as a continual dialogue with the Lord Jesus, risen and alive. In every age, Christ has called and continues to call men to follow him more closely by participating in his priesthood – that implies that, in every period of the history of the Church, the Lord has held a vocational dialogue with the faithful that He has chosen, so that they may be his representatives among the people of God, as well as mediators between heaven and earth, particularly in the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments. In fact, one can say that the liturgy opens heaven wide here on earth.

On this basis, you are called through ordination – without any merit of your own – to be mediators between God and his people and to make possible the salvific encounter through the celebration of the divine mysteries. Notwithstanding your own limits, you have responded to this call with generosity and joy. It is important that you always keep alive the sense of youthfulness in your hearts: “We must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old” (POPE FRANCIS, Homily for Palm Sunday, 24 March 2013, no. 3).

The youthfulness of the priestly spirit, firm in its vocation, is guaranteed by prayer, that is the continually maintained attitude of interior silence which favours listening to God every day. This continual opening of the heart happens, naturally, within a stability that – once the fundamental life decisions have been taken – is capable, with the help of grace, to remain faithful to the tasks which have been solemnly accepted, right up to the end of our earthly life. However, this necessary stability does not imply closing our ear to the ongoing call of God, because the Lord, while confirming us every day in our fundamental vocation, is always at the door of our heart knocking (cf. Acts 3:30), waiting for us to open it to Him with the same generosity with which we said to him our first “fiat”, imitating the availability of the Ever Virgin Mother of God (cf. Lk. 1:38). We can, therefore, never place limits on the plan that God has for us and that he will communicate to us day after day, throughout the whole of our life.

This vocational openness also represents the most certain way to live evangelical joy. It is, in fact, the Lord who will make us truly happy. Our joy does not come from mundane satisfaction, which makes us briefly happy and quickly disappears, as St. Ignatius of Loyola noted in his first spiritual discernment (cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings of 31 July, II Reading). Our joy is Christ! In the daily dialogue with Him, our spirit is reassured and continually renews our passion and our zeal for the salvation of souls.

This prayerful dimension of the priestly vocation reminds us of still more very important aspects. First among them is the fact that vocations grow not principally from a pastoral strategy, but above all through prayer. As Jesus taught: “Pray... the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk. 10:2). Commenting on these evangelical words, Pope Benedict XVI noted: “We cannot simply ‘produce’ vocations; they must come from God. This is not like other professions; we cannot simply recruit people by using the right kind of publicity or the correct type of strategy. The call which comes from the heart of God must always find its way into the heart of man” (Meeting with Priests and Permanent Deacons of Bavaria. 14 September 2006). You, dear Seminarians, have been called by the Lord, but many people spread throughout the world have supported and are supporting your response with their prayers and their sacrifices. Be grateful for this and unite yourselves to these prayers and sacrifices to support other responses to vocations. To the primacy of prayer can then be added, as a channel of this divine grace, the sound, motivated and enthusiastic vocational pastoral action on the part of the Church. With regard to this ecclesial collaboration with the divine work of giving pastors to the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ, it is appropriate to remember briefly a few matters that mark it out, that is: respect for priestly vocations, the witness of the lives of Priests, the specific work of Seminary formators.

It is first of all necessary that the Church appreciates you for your priestly vocation, considering that the Community of the disciples of Christ cannot exist without the service of the sacred ministers. From this comes the care, attention and reverence for the priesthood. Secondly, vocations are highly favoured, as can be seen from the example and the care that the priests offer them. It would be difficult for an exemplary priest not to stimulate the question in the minds of young people: could I not also be called to a wonderful and happy life like this? Particularly in this way, Priests are channels through which God makes the divine call resound in the heart of those He has chosen. Priests then will nurture the seeds of vocation that begin to spring in the souls of the young, by means of sacramental Confession, spiritual direction, preaching and pastoral enthusiasm. I am sure that many of you will be witnesses to and beneficiaries of this.

I would, furthermore, like to say a word about the important role of those priests to whom the Bishops entrust your formation. The Seminary formators are called to continue and to deepen the care for priestly vocations, while they provide all the required help for the necessary personal discernment of every candidate. As to this, we must remember the two principles which must guide the evaluation of vocations: the friendly welcome and the just severity. While every prejudice as well as every rigorsim should be avoided in the treatment of seminarians, on the other hand it is of the greatest importance to guard carefully against laxism and carelessness in judgment. The Church certainly needs Priests, but not any kind of Priest! The love that welcomes must therefore accompany the truth which judges with clarity whether, for a particular candidate, the signs of a vocation and the human qualities necessary for a trustworthy response to it are present. The pastoral urgency of the Church cannot be permitted to bring about haste in conferring the sacred ministry. On the contrary, where there is doubt, it is better to take the time necessary and carry out appropriate evaluations, which will not exclude the dismissal of those candidates who are not able to offer sufficient guarantees.

My dearest Seminarians, with these brief comments, I have endeavoured to redirect our spiritual attention to the immense gift and to the absolutely free mystery of our special vocation. We entrust to the intercession of our most holy Mother Mary and of St. Joseph the gifts of fidelity and of perseverance in the divine call that, by pure grace, they may be bestowed upon us and that we may seek to respond to the divine generosity, which always sends pastors for the flock with renewed apostolic zeal. Keep persevering, always remembering that we show our love in this world by our fidelity.

I remember you each day in prayer with great affection, and I implore the Lord to send down his divine benediction upon you.

Mauro Cardinal Piacenza

Prefect

Congregation for the Clergy

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Congregation of Divine Worship's Decree On Addition of St. Joseph's Name to the Eucharistic Prayer

VATICAN CITY, June 19, 2013 - Here is the translation of the decree made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on the addition of the name of St. Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV in the Roman Missal.

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DECREE

Exercising his paternal care over Jesus, Saint Joseph of Nazareth, set over the Lord’s family, marvelously fulfilled the office he received by grace. Adhering firmly to the mystery of God’s design of salvation in its very beginnings, he stands as an exemplary model of the kindness and humility that the Christian faith raises to a great destiny, and demonstrates the ordinary and simple virtues necessary for men to be good and genuine followers of Christ. Through these virtues, this Just man, caring most lovingly for the Mother of God and happily dedicating himself to the upbringing of Jesus Christ, was placed as guardian over God the Father’s most precious treasures. Therefore he has been the subject of assiduous devotion on the part of the People of God throughout the centuries, as the support of that mystical body, which is the Church.

The faithful in the Catholic Church have shown continuous devotion to Saint Joseph and have solemnly and constantly honored his memory as the most chaste spouse of the Mother of God and as the heavenly Patron of the universal Church. For this reason Blessed Pope John XXIII, in the days of the Most Holy Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, decreed that Saint Joseph’s name be added to the ancient Roman Canon. In response to petitions received from places throughout the world, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI deemed them worthy of implementation and graciously approved them. The Supreme Pontiff Francis likewise has recently confirmed them. In this the Pontiffs had before their eyes the full communion of the Saints who, once pilgrims in this world, now lead us to Christ and unite us with him.

Accordingly, mature consideration having been given to all the matters mentioned here above, this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by virtue of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff Francis, is pleased to decree that the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is henceforth to be added to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV, as they appear in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, after the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as follows: in Eucharistic Prayer II: "ut cum beáta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María, beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, beátis Apóstolis"; in Eucharistic Prayer III: "cum beatíssima Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum beátis Apóstolis"; and in Eucharistic Prayer IV: "cum beáta Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum Apóstolis ".

As regards the Latin text, these formulas are hereby declared typical. The Congregation itself will soon provide vernacular translations in the more widespread western languages; as for other languages, translations are to be prepared by the Bishops’ Conferences, according to the norm of law, to be confirmed by the Holy See through this Dicastery.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 1 May 2013, on the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker.

Antonio Card. Cañizares Llovera

Prefect

+ Arthur Roche

Archbishop Secretary

[Original text: Latin]

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Francis' Address to Italian President
"In todays world religious liberty is more often affirmed than fulfilled"

VATICAN CITY, June 11, 2013- Here is a translation of the address Francis gave to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano when the two met last Saturday.

* * *

Mister President of the Republic,

I wish to thank you heartily for your welcome visit, which gives me the opportunity to express my most cordial greeting to you and to all the Italian people, whose representatives have elected you recently for a new mandate to the highest office of the State. I extend, then, my greeting and my gratitude to all the members of the different delegations that accompany you.

Your visit, Mister President, is inserted in a now long history of relations, and it confirms once again, even after troubled and painful events, the normality and excellence of relations between Italy and the Holy See. These relations were developed especially after the Conciliation and the insertion of Lateran Pacts in the Italian Constitution, and then in a new point of view, after the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council and the Agreement for the Revision of the Concordat.

Confirmed many times with full reason by both parties is that the dialogue between Italy and the Holy See has as its principal end the good of the Italian people and, as the ideal background, its unique historical role in Europe and in the world. In this connection, Italy can truly be an example in the community of peoples, as has been recognized many times also by very diverse personalities and, in recent times, it seemed evident from the intensity of the relationship of esteem and friendship between you, Mister President, and His Holiness Benedict XVI.

In Italy the collaboration between State and Church, is always geared to the interest of the people and of society; it is realized in the daily relations between civil entities and those of the Catholic community, represented by Bishops and their organizations, and in an altogether particular way by the Bishop of Rome. So, also this first visit of the President to the Pope – after your participation at the Mass for the beginning of the Petrine ministry – can be expressed effectively with the image of two hills, the Quirinale and the Vatican, which regard one another with esteem and sympathy.

Recalled in this year 2013 is the 17th centenary of the Edict of Milan, seen by many sides as symbol of the first affirmation of the principle of religious liberty. A century ago the celebration of this event represented a stage in the historic process that fostered the awareness and contribution of Catholics in the building of the Italian society, a contribution that continues to be important for the Nation’s journey.

In today’s world religious liberty is more often affirmed than fulfilled. In fact, it is constrained to suffer threats of various sorts and not rarely is violated. The grave outrages inflicted on such a primary right are a source of serious concern and must elicit the unanimous reaction of the countries of the world in reaffirming, against any attack, the intangible dignity of the human person. It is a duty of everyone to defend religious liberty and to have it promoted by all. Found, moreover, in the shared protection of such a moral good is, also, a guarantee of growth and of development of the whole community.

The historical moment we are living is marked also in Italy, as in many other countries, by a profound and persistent global crisis, which accentuates the economic and social problems, burdening especially the weakest part of society. Phenomena that seem worrying above all are the weakening of the family and of social bonds, the demographic decline, the prevalence of logics that privilege profit over work, the insufficient attention to the younger generations and to their formation, in view also of a serene and secure future.

In this context, which is certainly not easy, it is essential to guarantee and to develop the general establishment of democratic institutions, to which in the past decades Italian Catholics have contributed in a decisive, loyal and creative way. In a moment of crisis such as the present it is urgent, therefore, that a new consideration of the political commitment be able to grow, above all among young people, and that believers and non-believers collaborate together in promoting a society where injustices can be overcome and every person is accepted and is able to contribute to the common good in keeping with his/her dignity, putting to good use their own capacities. The distance between the letter and the spirit of the regulations and of the democratic institutions must always be recognized and it calls for the commitment of all the subjects involved to fill it always again. We, Catholics, also have the duty to be ever more committed to a serious journey of spiritual conversion so that every day we come closer to the Gospel, which pushes us to a concrete and effective service to persons and to society.

True also in the civil realm is what the faith assures us: we must never lose hope. How many examples, in this connection, have we been given by our parents and grandparents, facing in their times harsh trials with great courage and a spirit of sacrifice! Benedict XVI stated many times that the present crisis must be an occasion for a fraternal renewal of human relations. The Italian people also -- drawing with trust and creativity from their very rich Christian tradition and from the examples of their Patron Saints Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, as well as from numerous religious and lay figures, and from the silent testimony of so many women and men --, can and must overcome every division and grow in justice and peace, thus continuing to carry out its peculiar role in the European context and in the family of peoples, and work to create a culture of meeting.

Mister President, I renew my gratitude to you for this very welcome meeting. And I am happy to take this occasion to express my appreciation to you and to all Italians for the warm affection with which they received me after my election: they made me feel at home again! Thank you. May Italy always be a welcoming home for all! I assure you of my prayer for this, while blessing you and your loved ones from my heart, and all those at the service of public affairs and the whole Italian people. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]

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Pope's Q-and-A With Students of Jesuit Schools
"To work for the common good is a duty of a Christian!"

VATICAN CITY, June 11, 2013 - Here is a translation of the transcription of the q-and-a session Francis had with students from Jesuit schools.

* * *

Dear youngsters, dear young people!

I prepared this address to give you, but there are five pages! Somewhat boring … Let’s do something: I’ll make a little summary and then I will give this, in writing, to the Father Provincial. I will also give it to Father Lombardi, so that you all have it in writing. Are you happy with this or not? Yes? Good. Let’s follow this course.

The first point of this written is that in the education we give as Jesuits the key point is – for our development as persons – magnanimity. We must be magnanimous, with a big heart, without fear. To wager always on great ideals, but we must also be magnanimous with small things, with daily things; we must have a wide heart, a great heart. And it is important to find this magnanimity with Jesus, in the contemplation of Jesus. Jesus is the one who opens for us the windows to the horizon. Magnanimity means to walk with Jesus, with the heart attentive to what Jesus is saying to us. In regard to this, I would like to say something to educators, to workers in schools, and to parents. Educate. In educating, there is a balance to be kept; the steps must be well balanced: a firm step in the area of security, but another step in the area of risk. And when that risk becomes security, the next step looks for another area of risk. We can’t educate only in the area of security: no. This is to impede personalities from growing. But we can’t educate either only in the area of risk: this is very dangerous. Remember well this balancing of the steps.

We have reached the last page. And to you, educators, I would also like to encourage you to seek new, unconventional forms of education, in keeping with the needs of the place, of the times and of the persons involved. This is important in our Ignatian spirituality: always go that “step farther,” and do not be at peace with conventional things. Seek new forms in keeping with the places, the times and the persons. I encourage you in this. And now, I am ready to answer some questions that you wish to ask: youngsters, educators. I am at your disposition. I have asked the Father Provincial to help me with this.

--Father Provincial: Holiness, the questions weren’t prepared, so will you take them as they come? OK. Just checking, so …

--A young man: I am Francesco Bassani, of the Leo XIII Institute. I’m a boy who, as I wrote in my letter to you, Pope, seeks to believe. I seek … yes, I seek to be faithful. However, I have difficulties. Sometimes I have doubts. And I think this is absolutely normal at my age. Given that you are the Pope whom I believe I will have a long time in my heart, in my life, because I am meeting you in my adolescent phase of growth, I would like to ask you for a word that will sustain me in this growth and sustain all the youngsters with me.

--Holy Father: To walk is an art, because if we always walk in a hurry, we get tired and we can’t reach the end, the end of the road. On the other hand, if we stop and don’t walk, we won’t reach the end either. To walk is in fact the art of looking at the horizon, to think where I want to go, but also to endure the exhaustion of the walk. And so many times the walk is difficult, it’s not easy. “I want to remain faithful to this path, but it’s not easy, listen: there is darkness; there are days of darkness -- also days of failure, also days of falls … one falls, falls…” However, always think of this: have no fear of failures; have no fear of falls. What matters in the art of walking isn’t not to fall, but not to “stay fallen.” To get up fast, immediately, and to continue walking. And this is beautiful: this means to work every day, this is to walk humanly. But it is also hard to walk alone, hard and boring. To walk in community, with friends, with those who love us: this helps us, it helps us in fact to arrive at the end to which we must go. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question. Are you with me? You won’t be afraid of the path? Thank you.

--A young woman: Well … I am Sofia Grattarola of the Massimiliano Massimo Institute. And I would like to ask you, given that you, as all children, when you were in elementary school, you had friends, no? And given that today you are Pope, do you still see these friends?

--Holy Father: I have been Pope for two and a half months. My friends are 14 hours by plane from here, they are far away. But I want to say something to you: three of them came to see me and greet me, and I saw them and they write to me, and I love them so. We can’t live without friends: this is important, it’s important.

--A small girl [Teresa]: But did you want to be Pope? Francesco, did you want to be Pope?

--Holy Father: Do you know what it means for a person not to want so much good for himself? A person who wishes, who wants to be Pope, does not wish good for himself. God doesn’t bless him. No, I didn’t want to be Pope. OK? Come, come, come …

--A lady: Holiness, we are Monica and Antonella of the choir of the Students of Heaven of the Social Institute of Turin. We want to ask you: as we, who were educated in Jesuit schools, are often invited to reflect on Saint Ignatius’s spirituality, we would like to ask you: at the time you chose the consecrated life, what drove you to be a Jesuit rather than a diocesan priest or one of another Order? Thank you.

--Holy Father: I lodged several times at the Social Institute of Turin. I know it well. What pleased me most about the Society was its missionary nature, and I wanted to become a missionary. And when I studied philosophy, I wrote to the General – not about theology – I wrote to the General, who was Father Arrupe, asking him to send me to Japan or somewhere else. But he thought well, and he said to me, with so much charity: “But you have had an illness of the lung, and that isn’t so good for such strong work,” so I stayed in Buenos Aires. But Father Arrupe was very good, because he didn’t say: “But you aren’t so holy as to become a missionary”: he was good, he had charity. And what gave me so much strength to become a Jesuit was the mission: to go outside, to go out, to go out always to proclaim Jesus Christ, and not remain somewhat shut-in in our structures, so often short-lived. It was that which moved me. Thank you.

--A lady: Well, I am Caterina De Marchis, of the Leo XIII Institute and I wondered: why have you given up all the riches of a Pope, such as a luxurious apartment, or a huge car, and instead you have gone to a small apartment in the neighborhood, and taken a bus for Bishops. How did you ever give up wealth?

--Holy Father: But, I believe it’s not just about wealth. For me it’s a problem of personality: it’s this. I have a need to live among people, and if I lived alone, perhaps somewhat isolated, it wouldn’t do me good. A professor asked me this question: “But why don’t you go to live there?” I answered: “But, listen to me, professor: for psychiatric reasons.” It’s my personality. Also the apartment, the one [of the Papal Palace] is not so luxurious, tranquil … But I can’t live alone, do you understand? And then I think that, if the times speaks to us of so much poverty in the world, this is a scandal. The poverty of the world is a scandal. In a world where there are so many, many riches, so many resources to feed everyone, one can’t understand why it is that there are so many famished children, so many children without education, so many poor! Poverty, today, is a cry. All of us must think if we can become somewhat poorer: We must also do this. How can I become a bit poorer to resemble Jesus better, who was the poor Master. This is the thing. But it’s not a problem of my personal virtue; it’s only that I can’t live alone, and also in regard to the car that you mentioned: it’s a question of not having so many things and of becoming somewhat poorer. This is it.

--A boy: My name is Eugenio Serafini, I ‘m of the CEI Institute, Ignatian educational center. I wish to ask you a brief question: how did you decide that you would not be a Pope but a parish priest, how did you decide to become a Jesuit? How did you do this? Wasn’t it difficult for you to abandon, to leave your family, your friends, wasn’t this difficult for you?

--Holy Father: Listen, it’s always difficult: always. It was difficult for me. It’s not easy. There are beautiful moments and Jesus helps you, He gives you some joy. But there are difficult moments, where you feel alone, you feel arid, without interior joy. There are dark moments, of interior darkness. There are difficulties. But it’s so beautiful to follow Jesus, to follow Jesus’ path, which you then weigh and go forward. And then more beautiful moments come. But no one must think that there won’t be difficulties in life. Now I would also like to ask a question: how do you think of going forward with difficulties? It’s not easy. But we must go forward with strength and with trust in the Lord, with the Lord, everything can be done.

--A young girl: Hello, my name is Federica Iaccarino and I come from the Pontano Institute of Naples. I would like to ask you for a word for young people today, for the future of the young people of today, given that Italy is in a situation of great difficulty. And I would like to ask for aid to be able to lead her to improvement, for help for us, to be able to take these youngsters forward, to take us youngsters.

--Holy Father: You say that Italy is going through a difficult moment. Yes, there’s a crisis. But I will say to you: not only in Italy. The whole world at this time is in a moment of crisis. And the crisis, the crisis is not something bad. It’s true that the crisis makes us suffer, but we must – and you young people especially – must be able to read the crisis. What does this crisis mean? What must I do to help to come out of the crisis? The crisis that we are living at this time is a human crisis. They say: but, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a crisis of work. Yes, it’s true, but why? Because the problem of work, the problem of the economy, is a consequence of the great human problem. What is in crisis is the value of the human person, and we must defend the human person. At this moment … but I have already said this three times before, but I shall do so a fourth. I once read an account of a Medieval Rabbi of the year 1200. This Rabbi explained to the Jews of that time the story of the Tower of Babel. It wasn’t easy to build the Tower of Babel: bricks had to be made; and how is a brick made? One must find the clay, the straw; mix them, put them in the oven: it was enormous work. And after this work, a brick became a real treasure! Then they would take the bricks to the top to build the Tower of Babel. But if a brick fell, it was a tragedy, the worker who dropped it was punished; it was a tragedy! However, if a man fell, nothing happened! This is the crisis we are going through today: it’s the crisis of the person. The person doesn’t count today. Money counts. And Jesus, God has given the world, the whole of creation. He has given it to the person, to man and woman to take it forward, not money. It’s a crisis; the person is in crisis because the person today – listen well, this is true – is a slave! And we must free ourselves from these economic and social structures that enslave us. And this is your task.

--A small boy: Hello, I am Francesco Vin, and I come from the Saint Ignatius School of Messina. I want to ask you if you have ever been to Sicily.

--Holy Father: No. I can say two things. No, or not yet.

--The child: If you come, we will await you!

--The Holy Father: But I’ll tell you something: I know a very beautiful film about Sicily, which I saw ten years ago, called Kaos, with “k”: Kaos. It’s a film based on four stories of Pirandello, and this film is very beautiful. I was able to see all the beauties of Sicily. This is the only thing I know about Sicily. But it’s beautiful!

--A professor: Holy Father, I am Professor Jesus Maria Martinez … [at this moment there was applause which, moreover, characterized several moments of the dialogue between the Holy Father and the participants at the audience].

--The Holy Father: But, there are fans!

--The professor: They are students of Spanish because I’m Spanish: I’m from San Sebastian. They are students also of religion, and I can say that the students, the professors wish you all the very best: this is certain. I don’t speak on behalf of anyone, but seeing so many former pupils, also so many personalities and also us, adults, students, educated by the Jesuits, I wonder about our political, our social commitment in society, as adults in the Jesuit schools. Can you give us a word: how our commitment, our work today, in Italy, in the world, can be Jesuit, can be evangelical?

--The Holy Father: Very good. To be involved in politics is an obligation for a Christian. We Christians cannot “play Pilate,” wash our hands: we can’t do this. We must be involved in politics, because politics is one of the highest forms of charity, because it seeks the common good. And lay Christians must labor in politics. You will tell me: “But it’s not easy!” But neither is it easy to become a priest. They are not easy things in life. It’s not easy. Politics has become too soiled, but I ask: why has it become soiled? Why have Christians not become involved in politics with an evangelical spirit? With this question that I pose to you, it’s easy to say “the fault is somebody else’s.” But, what do I do? It’s a duty! To work for the common good is a duty of a Christian! And so many times the place to work in is politics. There are other ways: a professor, for instance. However, political activity for the common good is one of the ways. This is clear.

--A youth: Father, my name is Giacomo. In reality, I’m not alone here today, but I bring a great number of youngsters who are youths of the Student Missionary League. So, Father, first of all my gratitude and that of all the youngsters that I have also heard over these days, because finally with you we have found that message of hope which before we felt constrained to rediscover in a tour around the world. Now, to be able to hear you in our homes is something that is very powerful for us. Above all, Father, allow me to say, from a post, from a place, this light has been lighted in this place where we, young people, had really begun to lose hope. So, thank you, because you have gone to the bottom of it all. My question is this, Father: we, as you well know from your experience, have learned to experience, to live with many sorts of poverty, which are material poverty – I am thinking of the poverty of our twinship in Kenya --; which are spiritual poverty – I am thinking of Rumania, I am thinking of the wounds of the political vicissitudes, I am thinking of alcoholism. So, Father, I would like to ask you: how can we, young people, coexist with this poverty? How must we behave?

--The Holy Father: First of all, I would like to say something to all you young people: don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! Please, don’t let yourselves be robbed! And who robs your hope? The spirit of the world, riches, the spirit of vanity, arrogance, pride. All these things rob one of hope. Where do I find hope? In the poor Jesus, Jesus who made himself poor for us. And you spoke of poverty. Poverty calls us to sow hope, so that I, too, will have more hope. This seems a bit difficult to understand, but I recall that Father Arrupe once wrote a good letter to the Centers of Social Research, to the Social Centers of the Society. He spoke about the way the social problem should be studied. But in the end he said to us -- he said to all of us: “Look, we can’t speak of poverty without having the experience with the poor.” You have spoken of the twinship with Kenya: the experience with the poor. We can’t speak of poverty, of abstract poverty, which does not exist! Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in the child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those social structures that are unjust. Go, look at the flesh of Jesus there. But don’t let yourselves be robbed of the hope of wellbeing, of the spirit of wellbeing that, in the end, leads you to become a nothing in life! A youth must wager on lofty ideals: this is the advice. But hope, where do I find hope? I find it in the flesh of the suffering Jesus and in real poverty. There is a connection between the two. Thank you.

Now I give all, to all of you, to your families, to everyone, the Blessing of the Lord.

[Original text: Italian]

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Pope's Message to the Italian Association of the Blind and the Visually Impaired

VATICAN CITY, June 11, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ audio message to the Italian Association of the Blind and the Visually Impaired who are gathered in Tirrenia for a time of vacation and rehabilitation.

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Dear Friends,

I greet you with affection. I know that you are gathered at Tirrenia for a period of sojourn, and that some of you wished to come to Rome. Thanks to modern technology, I can come to you! I thank you for your esteem, for your affection and, above all, for your prayers.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus had a special care for the blind. He healed many of them, along with so many other sick people. However, the healing of the person deprived of sight has a particular symbolic meaning: it represents the gift of faith. And it is a sign that concerns all, because we all have need of the light of faith to journey on the path of life. Because of this, Baptism, which is the first Sacrament of the faith, in times past, was also called “illumination.”

I pray to the Lord to renew in each one of you the gift of faith, so that the light of God will always be in your spirit, the light of love, which gives meaning to our life, illumines it, gives us hope, and makes us be good and be at the disposition of our brothers.

I also wish every good for your association, the Italian Union of the Blind and of the Visually Handicapped. Spread always the culture of meeting, of solidarity, of hospitality to persons with disability, not only asking for the just providence, but fostering their active participation in the life of society.

I entrust you all to the protection of Mary Most Holy, our Mother. I ask you to pray for me and for my service to the Church, and I bless you, along with your dear ones, from my heart.

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Statement by Irish Catholic Bishops on Right to Life

DUBLIN, June 11, 2013  - Here is the text of the statement released by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland on the second day of their General Meeting in Maynooth.

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A time to uphold the right to life: Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland

A time to reflect

On Saturday last, tens of thousands of women, men and children gathered in Dublin to express their support for the equal right to life of mothers and their unborn children.

We are at a defining moment for our country.

The Gospel of life is at the heart of the message of Jesus. He came that we may have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10). The Gospel challenges us to work for a world in which the dignity and beauty of every human life are respected.

A time to uphold the right to life

The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights; it is the foundation of all other rights. No individual has the right to destroy life and no State has the right to undermine the right to life.

Yet the Irish Government is proposing abortion legislation that will fundamentally change the culture of medical practice in Ireland. For the first time legislation will be enacted permitting the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child. This represents a radical change. Every citizen, not just people of faith, should be deeply concerned.

We value the skill and efforts of our doctors, nurses and other care professionals who have helped to earn Ireland’s place as one of the safest countries in the world for mothers and their babies during pregnancy.

Catholic Church teaching is clear: where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort is made to save both the mother and her baby.

This is different from abortion, which is the direct and intentional taking of the innocent life of the unborn. No matter what legislation is passed in any country, abortion is, and always will be, gravely wrong.

A time for clarity and truth

The Government is under no obligation to legislate for the X case. People are being misled. We challenge repeated statements that this legislation is about saving lives and involves no change to the law or practice on abortion. Legalising the direct and intentional destruction of the life of an unborn baby can never be described as ‘life-saving’ or ‘pro-life’.

Contrary to clear psychiatric evidence, this legislation proposes abortion as an appropriate response to women with suicidal feelings during pregnancy. It is even possible to envisage as a result of this legislation the deliberate destruction of a child, who could otherwise be saved, right up to and including the moment of birth.

Furthermore, we challenge assurances that the proposed legislation will provide limited access to abortion. As published to date, the legislation will allow for a very wide margin of subjective professional assessment by which the deliberate destruction of an unborn baby can be legally justified. As we have learned from other countries, such legislation opens the door to ever wider availability of abortion.

We remain convinced that enhanced medical guidelines, which do not envisage the direct and intentional killing of the unborn, could provide the necessary clarity as well as a morally, legally and medically acceptable way forward. While good health can normally be restored, life, once taken, can never, never be restored.

A time for freedom of conscience

Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right. A State that truly cherishes freedom will respect the conscience of its citizens, including its public representatives, on such an important human value as the right to life.

It is ethically unacceptable to expect doctors, nurses and others who have conscientious objections to nominate others to take their place. Neither should any institution with a pro-life ethos be forced to provide abortion services.

A time to decide: a time to act; a time to pray

We call on citizens to exercise their right to make their views known respectfully to our public representatives and to leave them in no doubt about where they stand on this issue.

We ask our public representatives to uphold the equal and inviolable right to life of all human beings, even if this means standing above other pressures and party loyalties.

We also invite our priests and people to continue to pray the Choose Life prayer at Mass and in the home that the dignity and value of all human life will continue to be upheld in this country.

Some mothers today are facing difficult or crisis pregnancies. Other people who have had, or who have assisted with abortions, may be re-living what happened in the past. They deserve to receive all the love, support and professional care that they need.

As Bishops we will join this weekend in prayerful solidarity with millions of Catholics all over the world in the Year of Faithcelebration of Blessed John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

Every human life is precious, every human life is beautiful, every human life is sacred. Choose life!

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Pope's Address to the 13th Ordinary Council of the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2013  - Here is the translation of the prepared text of the Pope's address to the members of the 13th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, gathered in assembly to reflect on the topic: “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.” Pope Francis decided to forego his prepared comments and addressed the members informally.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I greet you very cordially, and I thank in particular Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General, for the words he addressed to me. I extend, through you, my greeting to the particular Churches that are entrusted to your pastoral care. I am grateful for the help offered to the Bishop of Rome, in his office of President of the Synod of Bishops, for the elaboration and implementation of all that emerged in the 13th Ordinary General Assembly. It is a precious service to the universal Church that requires availability, commitment and sacrifice, also to face long trips. A sincere thank you to each one of you!

I would like to stress the importance of the Assembly: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. There is a close connection between these two elements: the transmission of the Christian faith is the object of the New Evangelization and of the whole evangelizing endeavor of the Church, which exists in fact for this. The expression “New Evangelization,” then, brings to light the ever clearer awareness that even in the countries of ancient Christian tradition a renewed proclamation of the Gospel is necessary, to lead back to an encounter with Christ that really transforms life and is not superficial, marked by routine. And this has consequences in pastoral action. As the Servant of God Paul VI observed, “the conditions of society oblige us to look again at the methods, to seek with every means of study how to take to modern man the Christian message, in which he can only find the answer to his questions and the strength for his endeavor of human solidarity” (Address to the Sacred College of Cardinals, June 22, 1973). In Evangelii nuntiandi, a very rich text that has lost none of its importance, the same Pontiff recalled how the commitment to proclaim the Gospel “is without a doubt a service rendered not only to the Christian community, but also to humanity” (n. 1). I would like to encourage the entire ecclesial community to be evangelizing, not to fear to “go out” of itself to proclaim, trusting above all in the merciful presence of God who guides us. The techniques are certainly important, but not even the most perfect can substitute the discreet but effective action of Him who is the principal agent of evangelization: the Holy Spirit (cf. Ibid., 75). We must allow ourselves to be led by Him, even if He leads us to new ways; we must allow ourselves to be transformed by Him so that our proclamation will take place with the word accompanied always by simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, of charity to all, especially the little ones and the poor, of humility and of self-detachment, of holiness of life (cf. Ibid., 76). Only thus will it be truly fruitful!

A thought, also, on the Synod of Bishops. It was certainly one of the fruits of Vatican Council II. Thanks be to God, in these almost fifty years, we have experienced the benefits of this institution that, in a permanent way, is placed at the service of the mission and of the communion of the Church, as expression of collegiality. I can attest to it also on the basis of my personal experience, having taken part in several Synodal Assemblies. Open to the grace of the Holy Spirit, soul of the Church, let us be confident that the Synod of Bishops will experience further developments to foster increasing dialogue and collaboration between the Bishops and between them and the Bishop of Rome. Dear fellow Bishops, your meeting over these days in Rome has the object of helping me in the choice of the topic for the next Ordinary General Assembly. I am grateful for the proposals sent by the institutions with which the General Secretariat of the Synod is in correspondence: the Synods of the Catholic Eastern Churches sui iuris, the Episcopal Conferences, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the Presidency of the Union of Superiors General. I am certain that with discernment, accompanied by prayer, this work will bear abundant fruit for the whole Church that, faithful to the Lord, desires to proclaim Jesus Christ, with renewed courage, to the men and women of our time. He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) for each and for all.

Entrusting your ecclesial service to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, I impart from my heart to you, to your collaborators and to your particular Churches the Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope Francis receives Archbishop of Canterbury (June 14)

Pope Francis on Friday met with the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It was the first meeting between the two.

Below, the complete translation of Pope Francis' discourse at the meeting:  

Your Grace, Dear Friends,

On the happy occasion of our first meeting, I make my own the words of Pope Paul VI, when he addressed Archbishop Michael Ramsey during his historic visit in 1966: “Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling ... we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are ... to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God’” (cf. Eph 2:19-20).

I know that during Your Grace’s installation in Canterbury Cathedral you remembered in prayer the new Bishop of Rome. I am deeply grateful to you – and since we began our respective ministries within days of each other, I think we will always have a particular reason to support one another in prayer.

The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God. This journey has been brought about both via theological dialogue, through the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and via the growth of cordial relations at every level through shared daily lives in a spirit of profound mutual respect and sincere cooperation. In this regard, I am very pleased to welcome alongside you Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. These firm bonds of friendship have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue that were greater than we could have foreseen at the start of our journey.

I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance.

This prayer gives a fresh impulse to our daily efforts to grow towards unity, which are concretely expressed in our cooperation in various areas of daily life. Particularly important among these is our witness to the reference to God and the promotion of Christian values in a world that seems at times to call into question some of the foundations of society, such as respect for the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall recently. 

Then there is the effort to achieve greater social justice, to build an economic system that is at the service of man and promotes the common good. Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.

I know that Your Grace is especially sensitive to all these questions, in which we share many ideas, and I am also aware of your commitment to foster reconciliation and resolution of conflicts between nations. In this regard, together with Archbishop Nichols, you have urged the authorities to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict such as would guarantee the security of the entire population, including the minorities, not least among whom are the ancient local Christian communities. As you yourself have observed, we Christians bring peace and grace as a treasure to be offered to the world, but these gifts can bear fruit only when Christians live and work together in harmony. This makes it easier to contribute to building relations of respect and peaceful coexistence with those who belong to other religious traditions, and with non-believers.

The unity we so earnestly long for is a gift that comes from above and it is rooted in our communion of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Christ himself promised, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Let us travel the path towards unity, fraternally united in charity and with Jesus Christ as our constant point of reference. In our worship of Jesus Christ we will find the foundation and raison d’être of our journey. May the merciful Father hear and grant the prayers that we make to him together. Let us place all our hope in him who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). 

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Below, the complete text of Archbishop Justin Welby’s address to Pope Francis, which was delivered in English:  

Your Holiness,

Dear Friends:

I am full of love and gratitude to be here. In the last few days we have been remembering the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII in the midst of the Second Vatican Council. At the Requiem said at Lambeth Palace fifty years ago this weekend by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, my much-loved predecessor said of him: ‘Pope John has shown us again the power of being, by being a man who touches human hearts with charity. So there has come to many a new longing for the unity of all Christians, and a new knowledge that however long the road may be, charity already makes all the difference to it.’

Having for many years found inspiration in the great corpus of Catholic social teaching, and worked on its implications with Catholic groups; having spent retreats in new orders of the Church in France, and being accompanied by the Prior of another new order; I do indeed feel that I am (in the words of Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael) coming to a place where I can feel myself at home.

Your Holiness, we are called by the Holy Spirit of God, through our fraternal love, to continue the work that has been the precious gift to popes and archbishops of Canterbury for these past fifty years, and of which this famous ring is the enduring token. I pray that the nearness of our two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and the Church.

As you have stressed, we must promote the fruits of our dialogue; and, with our fellow bishops, we must give expression to our unity in faith through prayer and evangelisation. It is only as the world sees Christians growing visibly in unity that it will accept through us the divine message of peace and reconciliation.

However, the journey is testing and we cannot be unaware that differences exist about how we bring the Christian faith to bear on the challenges thrown up by modern society. But our ‘goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey’ (Benedict XVI, Spe salvi 1), and we can trust in the prayer of Christ, ‘ut omnes unum sint’ (Jn 17.21). A firm foundation of friendship will enable us to be hopeful in speaking to one another about those differences, to bear one another’s burdens, and to be open to sharing the discernment of a way forward that is faithful to the mind of Christ pressed upon us as disciples.

That way forward must reflect the self-giving love of Christ, our bearing of his Cross, and our dying to ourselves so as to live with Christ, which will show itself in hospitality and love for the poor. We must love those who seek to oppose us, and love above all those tossed aside—even whole nations—by the present crises around the world. Also, even as we speak, our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer terribly from violence, oppression and war, from bad government and unjust economic systems. If we are not their advocates in the name of Christ, who will be?

Your Holiness, dear brother, I assure you of the love, respect and prayer of the bishops, clergy and people of the Anglican Communion.

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Francis' Address to La Civiltà Cattolica
"Your main task is not to build walls but bridges"

VATICAN CITY, June 14, 2013  - Here is the text of the address Francis gave to writers of the Jesuit journal "La Civilta Cattolica" when he met with the group today in the Vatican.

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Dear Friends in the Lord,

I am happy to meet with you, writers, your whole community, the Sisters and the staff of the administration of the House. Since 1850, the Jesuits of the Civiltà Cattolica have been engaged in a work that has a particular link with the Pope and the Apostolic See. My predecessors, meeting with you in audience, acknowledged many times how this link is an essential feature of your review. Today I would like to suggest three words to you that might help you in your endeavor.

The first is dialogue. You carry out an important cultural service. Initially the attitude and Civiltà Cattolica was combative and often, also, harshly combative, in tune with the general atmosphere of the time. Reviewing the 163 years of the review, one gathers a rich variety of positions, due be it to the changing of the historical circumstances, be it to the personality of the individual writers. Your fidelity to the Church still requires that you be hard against hypocrisies, fruit of a closed, sick heart, hard against this sickness. However, your main task is not to build walls but bridges; it is to establish a dialogue with all men, also with those who do not share the Christian faith, but “have the veneration of high human values,” and even “with those who oppose the Church and persecute her in various ways” (Gaudium et spes, 92).

There are so many human questions to discuss and share and it is always possible to approach the truth in dialogue, which is a gift of God, and to enrich ourselves mutually. To dialogue means to be convinced that the other has something good to say, to make room for his point of view, for his opinion, for his proposals without falling, obviously, into relativism. And to dialogue it is necessary to lower one’s defenses and to open the doors. Continue your dialogue with the cultural, social and political institutions, also to offer your contribution to the formation of citizens who have at heart the good of all and work for the common good. The “Civilta cattolica” is the civilization of love, of mercy and of faith.

The second word is discernment. Your task is to gather and express the expectations, the desires, the joys and the dramas of our time, and to offer the elements for a reading of the reality in the light of the Gospel. The great spiritual questions are more alive today than ever, but there is need of someone to interpret them and to understand them. With humble and open intelligence, “seek and find God in all things,” as Saint Ignatius wrote. God is at work in the life of every man and in the culture: the Spirit blows where it will. Seek to discover what God has operated and how His work will proceed. A treasure of the Jesuits is in fact spiritual discernment, which seeks to recognize the presence of the Spirit of God in the human and cultural reality, the seed of His presence already planted in the events, in the sensibilities, in the desires, in the profound tensions of hearts and of the social, cultural and spiritual contexts. I recall something that Rahner said: the Jesuit is a specialist of discernment in the field of God and also in the field of the devil. One must not be afraid to continue in discernment to find the truth. When I read these observations of Rahner, they really struck me.

And to seek God in all things, in all fields of knowledge, of art, of science, of political, social and economic life, studies, sensibility and experience are necessary. Some of the subjects you address might not have an explicit relation with a Christian perspective, but they are important to appreciate the way that persons understand themselves and the world that surrounds them. Your informative observation must be broad, objective and timely. It is also necessary to give particular attention into the truth, goodness and beauty of God, which are always considered together, and are precious allies in the commitment to defend the dignity of man, in the building of peaceful coexistence and in protecting creation carefully. From this attention stems serene, sincere and strong judgment about events, illuminated by Christ. Great figures such as Matteo Ricci are a model of this. All this requires keeping the heart and mind open, avoiding the spiritual sickness of self-reference. Even the Church, when she becomes self-referencing, gets sick, grows old. May our sight, well fixed on Christ, be prophetic and dynamic towards the future: in this way, you will always be young and audacious in the reading of events!

The third word is frontier. The mission of a review of culture such as La Civilta Cattolica enters the contemporary cultural debate and proposes, in a serious and at the same time accessible way, the vision that comes from the Christian faith. The break between Gospel and culture is undoubtedly a tragedy (cf. Evangelii nuntiandi, 20). You are called to give your contribution to heal this break, which passes also through the heart of each one of you and of your readers. This ministry is typical of the mission of the Society of Jesus. With your reflections and your deeper , support the cultural and social processes, and all those going through difficult transitions, taking account also of the conflicts. Your proper place is the frontiers. This is the place of Jesuits. That which Paul VI, taken up by Benedict XVI, said of the Society of Jesus, is true for you also in a particular way today: “Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and acute fields, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there was and is the confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, the Jesuits have been and are there.” Please, be men of the frontier, with that capacity that comes from God (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6). But do not fall into the temptation of taming the frontiers: you must go to the frontiers and not bring the frontiers home to varnish them a bit and tame them. In today’s world, subject to rapid changes and agitated by questions of great relevance for the life of the faith, a courageous commitment is urgent to educate to a faith of conviction and maturity, capable of giving meaning to life and of offering convincing answers to all those seeking God. It is a question of supporting the action of the Church in all fields of her mission. This year La Civilta Cattolica has been renewed: it has assumed a new graphic appearance, it can also be read in a digital version and it brings its readers together also in the social networks. These are also frontiers in which you are called to operate. Continue on this path!

Dear Fathers, I see young, less young and elderly among you. Yours is a unique review of its kind, which is born from a community of life and of studies; as in a harmonious choir, each one must have his voice and harmonize it with that of others. Strength, dear brothers! I am sure I can count on you. While I entrust you to the Madonna della Strada, I impart to you, writers, collaborators and Sisters, as well as to all readers of the review, my Blessing.

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Pope's Address to Members of French Parliament

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to several members of the French parliament who visited the Pope on Saturday morning.

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Mr. President, dear Parlamentarians,

Welcoming your request, I am happy to receive you this morning, members of the senate and national assembly of the French Republic. The different political sensibilities that you represent aside, your presence manifests the quality of the relations between your country and the Holy See.

This meeting is for me the occasion to underscore the relations of trust that generally exist in France between the leaders of public life and the leaders of the Catholic Church, whether at the national level, the regional or the local. The principle of secularity that governs the relations between the French state and the different religious confessions need not in itself mean hostility to religion or an exclusion of religions from the public square and the debates that animate it. We can rejoice in the fact that the proposals of the Church are among those that are valued in French society, in particular the Church’s vision of the human person and his dignity in view of the common good. The Church thus desires to offer her own specific contribution to the profound questions that require a more complete vision of the person and his destiny and of society and its destiny. This contribution situates itself not only in the anthropological and social sphere but also in the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Insofar as you are elected by a nation toward which the eyes of the world often turn, it is your duty, I hold, it is your duty to contribute in a constant and effective way toward the improvement of the life of your fellow citizens, whom you know especially through the many local contacts that you cultivate that make you sensitive to their needs. Your work is certainly technical and juridical and consists in proposing laws, in amending them and also in abrogating them. But it is necessary too to infuse in them a supplement, a spirit, a soul, I would say, that reflects not only the fashions and ideas of the moment, but confers on them an indispensable quality that elevates and ennobles the human person.

I formulate, thus, for you my warmest encouragement in undertaking your mission, always seeking the good of the person and promoting fraternity in your country. May God bless you.

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Pope's Homily at Evangelium Vitae Mass

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Pope's homily during the Mass commemorating the Day of "Evangelium Vitae" in St. Peter's Square this morning.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This celebration has a very beautiful name: the Gospel of Life. In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.

On the basis of the word of God which we have heard, I would like to offer you three simple points of meditation for our faith: first, the Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and third, following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.

1. The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David’s adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: "Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight? (cf. 2 Sam 12:9). The King is forced to face his deeds of death; what he has done is truly a deed of death, not life! He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness: "I have sinned against the Lord!" (v. 13). The God of mercy, who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life. The prophet tells him: "The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die".

What is the image we have of God? Perhaps he appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth; he breathes in his nostrils the breath of life, and man becomes a living being (cf. 2:7). God is the source of life; thanks to his breath, man has life. God’s breath sustains the entire journey of our life on earth. I also think of the calling of Moses, where the Lord says that he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of the living. When he sends Moses to Pharaoh to set his people free, he reveals his name: "I am who I am", the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions – you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great "Yes!": a yes to God, to Love, to life. Dear friends, our lives are fulfilled in God alone, because only he is the Living One!

2. Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Lk 7:47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid so many deeds of death, amid sin, selfishness and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God’s mercy, she obtained forgiveness and she started a new life. God, the Living One, is merciful. Do you agree? Let’s say it together: God, the Living One, is merciful! All together now: God, the Living One, is merciful. Once again: God, the Living One is merciful!

This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). What is this life? It is God’s own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do we let ourselves be guided by him? Christians are "spiritual". This does not mean that we are people who live "in the clouds", far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.

3. God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the "Gospel of Life" but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps 19:8). Let us always remember: the Lord is the Living One, he is merciful. The Lord is the Living One, he is merciful.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say "Yes" to love and not selfishness. Let us say "Yes" to life and not death. Let us say "Yes" to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say "Yes" to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints (cf. 1 Jn 4:8;Jn 11:2; Jn 8:32); let us say "Yes" to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One. Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God who in Jesus Christ has given us his own life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and has made it possible to live as true sons and daughters of God through his mercy. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the "Gospel of Life". Amen.

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On the Gospel of Life

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass celebrating the Day of Evangelium Vitae.

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At the conclusion of this Eucharist dedicated to the Gospel of Life, I am happy to recall that yesterday at Carpi Odoardo Focherini was proclaimed blessed. He was a husband and father of 6 children and a journalist. He was captured and imprisoned because of hatred of his Catholic faith and died in a concentration camp in Hersbruck in 1944 when he was 37. He saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. Together with Church in Carpi, we thank God for this witness to the Gospel of Life! From my heart I thank all of you who have come from Rome and many parts of Italy and the world, especially the families and those who work directly for the protection of life.

I cordially greet the 150 members of the Pregnant Association of Argentina who are meeting in the city of Pilar. Thank you so much for what you do! Courage, forward!

Finally, I greet the many participants in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally and the members of the state police motorcycle club.

We turn now to Our Lady, entrusting each human life – especially the most fragile, defenseless and threatened – to her maternal protection.

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Pope Francis' Letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron

VATICAN CITY, June 17, 2013  - Here is the text of Pope Francis' letter to David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who will host the upcoming G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

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To The Right Honourable David Cameron, MP Prime Minister

I am pleased to reply to your kind letter of June 5, 2013, with which you were good enough to inform me of your Government's agenda for the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013 and of the forthcoming Summit, due to take place at Lough Erne on 17 and 18 June 2013, entitled A G8 meeting that goes back to first principles.

If this topic is to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international, makes reference to man. Indeed, such activity must, on the one hand, enable the maximum expression of freedom and creativity, both individual and collective, while on the other hand it must promote and guarantee their responsible exercise in solidarity, with particular attention to the poorest.

The priorities that the British Presidency has set out for the Lough Erne Summit are concerned above all with the free international market, taxation, and transparency on the part of governments and economic actors. Yet the fundamental reference to man is by no means lacking, specifically in the proposal for concerted action by the Group to eliminate definitively the scourge of hunger and to ensure food security. Similarly, a further sign of attention to the human person is the inclusion as one of the central themes on the agenda of the protection of women and children from sexual violence in conflict situations, even though it must be remembered that the indispensable context for the development of all the afore-mentioned political actions is that of international peace. Sadly, concern over serious international crises is a recurring theme in the deliberations of the G8, and this year it cannot fail to address the situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria.. In this regard, I earnestly hope that the Summit will help to obtain an immediate and lasting cease-fire and to bring all parties in the conflict to the negotiating table. Peace demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims, in order to build together a more equitable and just peace. Moreover, peace is an essential pre-requisite for the protection of women, children and other innocent victims, and for making a start towards conquering hunger, especially among the victims of war.

The actions included on the agenda of the British G8 Presidency, which point towards law as the golden thread of development – as well as the consequent commitments to deal with tax avoidance and to ensure transparency and responsibility on the part of governments – are measures that indicate the deep ethical roots of these problems, since, as my predecessor Benedict XVI made clear, the present global crisis shows that ethics is not something external to the economy, but is an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.

The long-term measures that are designed to ensure an adequate legal framework for all economic actions, as well as the associated urgent measures to resolve the global economic crisis, must be guided by the ethics of truth. This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity.

Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.

In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today's world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.

I wished to share these thoughts with you, Prime Minister,, with a view to highlighting what is implicit in all political choices, but can sometimes be forgotten: the primary importance of putting humanity, every single man and woman, at the centre of all political and economic activity, both nationally and internationally, because man is the truest and deepest resource for politics and economics, as well as their ultimate end.

Dear Prime Minister, trusting that these thoughts have made a helpful spiritual contribution to your deliberations, I express my sincere hope for a fruitful outcome to your work and I invoke abundant blessings upon the Lough Erne Summit and upon all the participants, as well as upon the activities of the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013, and I take this opportunity to reiterate my good wishes and to express my sentiments of esteem.

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Prime Minister David Cameron's June 5th Letter to Pope Francis

LONDON, June 17, 2013  - Here is the text of British Prime Minister David Cameron's letter to Pope Francis sent in early June regarding the G8 Summit which will be held in Northern Ireland on June 17th-18th.

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June 5, 2013

Your Holiness,

When I said farewell to Pope Benedict at the end of his historic State Visit to Britain in September 2010, .I made a number of promises. I said that the United Kingdom would keep its promises on aid, in particular in dedicating 0.7% of

GNI to international development aid, despite the tough economic times. I said that we would continue to help the poorest and ensure the money we spend on aid goes to those who need it most. I also promised that we would redouble our resolve to work for the common good, working closely with the Holy See.

In 2013, the United Kingdom holds the Presidency of the G8 group of nations. I am determined to ensure that our G8 agenda will lead to real benefits for the global economy and will help people in developed and developing countries alike. Your Holiness has spoken eloquently about the need to rebalance the global economy, to help the poor and disadvantaged, and to find people work. My aim for our G8 Presidency, especially at the G8 Summit at Lough Erne on 17 and 18 June, is to do this by restoring strong and sustainable growth to the world economy by practical action on fairer taxes, freer trade, and greater transparency.

I will use the G8 to galvanise collective international action to effectively tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance - problems shared by developed and developing countries alike. We shall promote a new global standard for automatic information exchange between tax authorities to shrink the space for tax evasion. We shall provide political support for the ongoing OECD and G20 work to prevent some individuals and corporates artificially shifting their profits to ultra-low tax jurisdictions, distorting competition and seek to enhance the flow of information to tax authorities. We shall seek to set out concrete steps we will take to let law enforcement and tax collectors find out who really owns and controls every company. We shall also explore what more can be done by the G8 to support lower-income developing countries to collect the tax revenues owed to them, thereby strengthening their public services in areas like health and education on which people's well-being depends.

On trade, I know the Vatican has taken a keen interest in trade liberalisation, particularly the potential that it offers to alleviate poverty, and the need to ensure the poorest countries are integrated into the global economy. This is very much in line with the trade agenda for Lough Eme. We shall ensure that the G8 shows leadership on free trade by opening our markets, resisting protectionism and supporting an open, global rule-based trading system to ensure that all countries can benefit from increased trade. Protectionism and trade bureaucracy are amongst the most significant brakes on the global economy, affecting developing and developed economies alike and creating a barrier to economic and social progress. This is why I will put political impetus on progressing bilateral and plurilateral deals as well as supporting the multilateral trading system.

We will support efforts to conclude a multilateral deal on Trade Facilitation at the WTO Ministerial Conference in December, which could add $70 billion to the global economy and would help boost trade in Africa in particular. We will also work with African countries to help them realise their goal of a Continental Free Trade Area, including through our support for regional integration. This could see intra-African trade double by 2022. If G8 countries complete all of their current trade deals and those in the pipeline, it could boost the income of the whole world by more than $1 trillion. Under our G8 Presidency, I also want to see real progress on tackling food and nutrition insecurity through practical action and greater political commitment to fighting global malnutrition.

Many of the world's poorest countries are shackled by a lack of transparency, poor mles, corrupt practices and weak capacity. Too often, a veil of secrecy allows corrupt corporations and officials in countries to flout the law and prevent development. Too often, mineral wealth in developing countries becomes a curse rather than a blessing, as a lack of transparency fosters crime and corruption. Too often, instead of a shared hope for the next generation, such wealth brings conflict, greed, and environmental damage. Through the G8, I plan to push for mandatory higher global standards for the extractives sector, to encourage responsible and sustainable investment in land, and setting the standards for ensuring that government data are released in an open and useable format.

Finally, the High Level Panel Report on the post-2015 development agenda, which we transferred to the UN Secretary General last week, highlighted the importance of trade, tax and transparency to better the lives of the world's poorest. The Report presents an ambitious roadmap to eradicate extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030. It says that everyone - regardless of gender, ethnicity, income, disability, age - must have their basic needs met, and their economic and human rights respected. It too makes a strong call for economic growth that promotes social inclusion and preserves the planet's natural resources for future generations. It says that freedom from violence, good governance and justice are not only fundamental to achieving poverty eradication, but goods in themselves that all citizens of the world have equal right to enjoy. I hope that you will be able to read the Report and offer support for its core messages.

You have called for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics. As President of the G8, I aim to help secure the growth and stability on which the prosperity and welfare of the whole world depends. To do this, we must tackle the conditions that cause poverty, stiffen the sinews of responsible capitalism, and strengthen governance and transparency.

I believe that this path is one which requires more than the G8 to find success, that responsible governments, business and faiths can and should travel together, doing what we can to turn these values into practical action for the benefit of all.

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Excerpts From Pope Francis' Address to Pastoral Convention

VATICAN CITY, June 18, 2013  - Here is the translation of excerpts released by the Holy See of the Pope’s address yesterday to the pastoral convention gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City.

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WE CANNOT REMAIN WITH ARMS CROSSED BEFORE A CITY THAT ASK HOPE OF US

A revolution, in order to transform history, must profoundly change human hearts. Revolutions that have taken place throughout the centuries have changed political and economic systems, but none of them have truly changed the human heart. Only Jesus Christ accomplished the true revolution, the one that radically transforms life, with his Resurrection that, as Benedict XVI loves to recall, was 'the greatest mutation in the history of humanity' and it gave birth to a new world.

This is the experience that the Apostle Paul lives. After having met Jesus on the way to Damascus, he radically changes his perspective on life and receives Baptism. God transforms his heart. Before he was a violent persecutor of Christians, now he becomes an Apostle, a courageous witness of Jesus Christ. With Baptism, the paschal sacrament, we to are made to participate in that same change and, like Paul, 'we too might live in newness of life'. We are led to believe that it is primarily in changing structures that we can build a new world. Faith tells us that only a new heart, one regenerated by God, can create a new world: a heart 'of flesh' that loves, suffers, and rejoices with others; a heart full of tenderness for those who, bearing the wounds of their lives, feel themselves to be on the outskirts of society. Love is the greatest force for transforming reality because it breaks down the walls of selfishness and fills the chasms that keep us apart from one another.

Even in Rome there are people who live without hope and who are immersed in deep sadness that they try to get out of, believing to have found happiness in alcohol, in drugs, in gambling, in the power of money, in sex without rules. But they find themselves still more dejected and sometimes vent their anger towards life with violent acts that are unworthy of the human person. We who have discovered the joy of having God for our Father and his love for us, can we stand idly by in front of our brothers and sisters and not proclaim the Gospel to them? We who have found in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, the meaning of life, can we be indifferent towards this city that asks us, perhaps even unconsciously, for hope? We are Christians; we are disciples of Jesus not to be wrapped up in ourselves but to open ourselves to others in order to help them, in order to bring them to Christ and to protect every creature.

St. Paul is aware that Jesusas his name signifiesis the Saviour of all humanity, not just of persons of a certain age or geographical area. The Gospel is for all because God loves everyone and wants to save everyone. The proclamation of the Gospel is destined primarily to the poor, to those who often lack the essentials for a decent life. The good news is first announced to them, that God loves them before all others and comes to visit them through the acts of charity that the disciples of Christ carry out in his name. Others think that Jesus' message is destined to those who don't have cultural training and who therefore find in faith the answer to the many 'whys' that are present in their hearts. Instead, the Apostle strongly affirms that the Gospel is for everyone, even experts. The wisdom that comes from Revelation is not opposed to human wisdom, but rather purifies and elevates it. The Church has always been present in the places where culture develops.

The Pope then improvised: The Gospel is for all! Going out toward the poor doesn't mean that we must become paupers or some sort of 'spiritual bums'! No, that's not what it means! It means that we must go towards the flesh of the suffering Jesus but Jesus' flesh also suffers in those who don't know it, with their studies, their intelligence, their culture. We must go there! That's why I like to use the expression 'go to the outskirts', the existential peripheries. Everyone, all of them, [who suffer] from physical and real poverty to intellectual poverty, which is also real. All the outskirts, all the intersections of paths: go there. And there sow the seed of the Gospel by word and by witness.

This means that we must have courage. I want to tell you something. In the Gospel there's that beautiful passage that tells us of the shepherd who, on returning to the sheepfold and realizing that a sheep is missing, leaves the 99 and goes to look for it, to look for the one. But, brothers and sisters, we have one. It's the 99 who we're missing! We have to go out, we must go to them! In this culturelet's face itwe only have one. We are the minority. And do we feel the fervour, the apostolic zeal to go out and find the other 99? This is a big responsibility and we must ask the Lord for the grace of generosity and the courage and the patience to go out, to go out and proclaim the Gospel.

Sustained by this certainty that comes from Revelation, we have the courage, the confidence, to go out of ourselves, to go out of our communities, to go where men and women live, work, and suffer, and to proclaim the Father's mercy to them, which was made known to humanity in Jesus of Nazareth. Let us always remember, however, that the Adversary wants to keep us separated from God and therefore instils disappointment in our hearts when we do not see our apostolic commitment immediately rewarded. Every day the devil sows the seeds of pessimism and bitterness in our hearts. Let us open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to sow seeds of hope and confidence. Don't forget that God is the strongest and that if we allow him into our lives nothing and no one can oppose his action. So let's not be overcome by the discouragement that we encounter in facing difficulties when we talk of Jesus and the Gospel. Let's not think that faith doesn't have a future in our city!

St. Paul then adds: 'I am not ashamed of the Gospel'. For him, the Gospel is the proclamation of Jesus' death on the cross. The cross forcefully reminds us that we are sinners, but above all that we are love, that we are so dear to God's heart that, to save us, He didn't hesitate to sacrifice his Son Jesus. The Christian's only boast is knowing that they are loved by God. Every person needs to feel themself loved the way they are because this is the only thing that makes life beautiful and worthy of being lived. In our time, when [what is freely given] seems to fade in our interpersonal relationships, we Christians proclaim a God who, to be our friend, asks nothing but to be accepted. Think of how many live in desperation because they have never met someone who has shown them attention, comforted them, made them feel precious and important. We, the disciples of Christ, can we refuse to go to those places that no one wants to go out of fear of compromising ourselves or the judgement of others, and thus deny our brothers and sisters the announcement of God's mercy?

Speaking off the cuff again, the Pope added: Freely given! We have received this gratuity, this grace, freely. We must give it freely. And this is what, in the end, I want to tell you Don't be afraid of love, of the love of God our Father. Don't be afraid to receive the grace of Jesus Christ. Don't be afraid of our freedom that is given by the grace of Jesus Christ, or, as Paul said: 'You are not under the law but under grace'. Don't be afraid of grace. Don't be afraid to go out of yourselves to go and find the 99 who aren't home. Go out to dialogue with them and tell them what we think. Go show them our love, which is God's love.

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Pope Francis´Address to Ecclesial Convention of Rome

VATICAN CITY, June 20, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address to the Ecclesial Convention of Rome on Monday evening.

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Good Evening All, Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Apostle Paul ended the passage of his letter to our ancestors with these words: you are no longer under the Law but under grace. And this is our life: to walk under grace, because the Lord has loved us, has saved us and has forgiven us. The Lord has done everything, and this is grace, the grace of God. We are on the way under the grace of God, which came to us in Jesus Christ, who has saved us. But this opens us to a great horizon, and this is joy for us. “You are no longer under the Law, but under grace.” But what does “living under grace” mean? We will try to explain something of what it means to live under grace. It’s our joy, it’s our freedom. We are free. Why? Because we live under grace. We are no longer slaves of the Law: we are free because Jesus Christ has freed us, he has given us freedom, the full freedom of the children of God, which we live under grace. This is a treasure. I will try to explain somewhat this very beautiful, very great mystery: to live under grace.

This year you worked so much on Baptism and also on the renewal of the post-Baptismal pastoral. Baptism, the passing from “under the Law” to “under grace,” is a revolution. There are so many revolutionaries in history, there have been so many. But no one had the force of the revolution that Jesus brought us: a revolution to transform history, a revolution that changes man’s heart profoundly. The revolutions of history have changed political and economic systems, but none of them really changed man’s heart. The true revolution, the one which transforms life radically, was accomplished by Jesus Christ through his Resurrection: the Cross and the Resurrection. Benedict XVI said about this revolution that “it is the greatest change in the history of humanity.” However, let’s think of this: it’s the greatest change in the history of humanity, it’s a true revolution and we are women and men revolutionaries of this revolution, because we follow the way of the greatest change in the history of humanity. If a Christian isn’t a revolutionary at this time he isn’t a Christian! He must be a revolutionary by grace! In fact the grace that the Father gives us through Jesus Christ crucified, dead and resurrected makes us revolutionaries, because -- and I quote Benedict XVI again -- “it’s the greatest change in the history of humanity,” because it changes the heart. The Prophet Ezekiel said: “I will take away from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” And this is the experience that the Apostle Paul lived: after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, his perspective on life changed radically and he received Baptism. God transformed his heart! Just think: a persecutor, one who pursued the Church and Christians became a saint, a Christian to his very bones, in fact a true Christian! First he was a violent persecutor, then he became an Apostle, a courageous witness of Jesus Christ, to the point of not being afraid of undergoing martyrdom. The Saul who wanted to kill anyone who proclaimed the Gospel, in the end gives his life to proclaim the Gospel. This is the change, the greatest change of which Pope Benedict spoke to us. It changes one’s heart of sinner -- of sinner: we are all sinners -- it transforms one into a saint. Is there one of us who isn’t a sinner? Should there be one, let him raise his hand! We are all sinners, all! We are all sinners. But the grace of Jesus Christ saves us from sin: it saves us! All, if we receive the grace of Jesus Christ, He changes our heart and from sinners He makes us saints. To become a saint it isn’t necessary to turn one’s eyes and look <here and there>, or to have <a saintly|> face! No, no, this isn’t necessary! Only one thing is necessary to become saints: to receive the grace that the Father gives us in Jesus Christ. Look, this grace changes our heart. We continue to be sinners, because we are all weak, but this grace which makes us feel that the Lord is good, that the Lord is merciful, that the Lord awaits us, that the Lord forgives us, this great grace is what changes our heart.

And the Prophet Ezekiel said that it changes our heart of stone into a heart of flesh. What does this mean? A heart that loves, a heart that suffers, a heart that rejoices with others, a heart full of tenderness for one who, bearing imprinted the wounds of life, feels himself on the periphery of society. Love is the greatest force of transformation of the reality, because it pulls down the walls of egoism and fills the ditches that keep us far from one another. And this is the love that comes from a changed heart, from a heart of stone that is transformed into a heart of flesh, a human heart. And grace does this, the grace of Jesus Christ which we have all received. Does any one of you know the cost of grace? Where is grace sold? Where can I buy grace? No one can say it: no. Do I go to buy it from the parish secretary, perhaps she sells grace? Does some priest sell grace? Listen well to this: grace is not bought or sold; it is a gift of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gives us grace. He is the only one who gives us grace. It is a gift: if He offers it to us, let us receive it. This is beautiful. Jesus’ love is like this: he gives us grace freely, freely. And we must give it freely to our brothers, to our sisters. It’s somewhat sad when one meets some who sell grace: this happened at times in the history of the Church, and it did so much evil, so much evil. But grace can’t be sold: it is received freely and given freely. And this is the grace of Jesus Christ.

In the midst of so many sorrows, so many problems that exist here, in Rome, there are people who live without hope. Each one of us can think, in silence, of people who live without hope and are immersed in a profound sadness from which they seek to come out, believing they can find happiness in alcohol, in drugs, in games of chance, in the power of money, in sexuality without rules. But they find themselves even more disappointed and sometimes vent their anger against life with violent behavior, unworthy of man. How many sad persons, how many sad persons there are without hope! Think also of the many young people that, after having experiencing so many things, finds no meaning in life and look to suicide as a solution. Do you know how many suicides of young people there are in the world today? The figure is high. Why? Because they don’t have hope. They have tried so many things and society, which is cruel --- is cruel! -- can’t give one hope. Hope is like grace: it can’t be bought; it’s a gift of God. And we must offer Christian hope with our witness, with our freedom, with our joy. The gift that God makes us of grace, brings hope. Can we, who have the joy of realizing that we are not orphans, that we have a Father, be indifferent to this city which asks us, perhaps also unwittingly, not knowing, for a hope that will help them to look at the future with greater trust and serenity? We cannot be indifferent. But how can we do this? How can we go forward and offer hope? Should we go on the street saying: “I have hope”? No! With your witness, with your smile, say: “I believe I have a Father.” This is the proclamation of the Gospel: with my word, with my witness to say: “I have a Father. We aren’t orphans. We have a Father,” and share this filiation with the Father with all others. “Father, now I understand: it’s about convincing others, of being proselytizers!” No: none of this. The Gospel is like a seed: you plant it, you plant it with your word and with your witness. And then, do not analyze how this came about: God does it. He makes the seed grow, but we must sow with the certainty that He gives the water, He gives the growth. And we don’t do the harvesting: it will be done by another priest, another layman, another lay woman, someone else will do it. The word without witness is air. Words aren’t enough. <What is needed is > the real witness that Paul talks about.

The proclamation of the Gospel is destined first of all to the poor, to all those who often lack what is necessary to lead a fitting life. To them is proclaimed first the happy message that God loves them with predilection and comes to visit them through the works of charity that Christ’s disciples carry out in his name. First of all, go to the poor: this is the first thing. We can read in Matthew 25 that at the Last Judgment we will all be judged on this. But some, then, think that Jesus’ message is destined to those who don’t have a cultural preparation. No! No! The Apostle states forcefully that the Gospel is for all, also for the learned. Wisdom, which stems from the Resurrection, is not opposed to human wisdom but, on the contrary, purifies and elevates it. The Church has always been present in places where culture is elaborated. But the first step is always priority to the poor. But we must also go to the frontiers of the intellect, of culture, in the loftiness of dialogue, of dialogue that makes peace, of intellectual dialogue, of reasonable dialogue. The Gospel is for all! This question of going to the poor does not mean that we must become paupers, or a sort of “spiritual vagrants”! No, no, it doesn’t mean this! It means that we must go to the flesh of the suffering Jesus, but the flesh of Jesus also suffers in those who do not know him with their study, with their intelligence, with their culture. We must go there! This is why, I like to use the expression ”go to the peripheries,” to the existential peripheries -- to all, all those of physical and real poverty, ofintellectual poverty, which is real as well. All the peripheries, all the crossroads: to go there and to sow the Gospel there with the word and with witness.

And this means that we must have courage. Paul VI said that he didn’t understand disheartened Christians; he didn’t understand them. These sad, anxious Christians, these Christians of whom one wonders if they believe in Christ or in a “complaining goddess”: one never knows. They lament every day, they lament how the world is, what calamity, what calamities there are. But think: the world isn’t worse than it was five centuries ago! The world is the world, and it has always been the world. And when one laments, and is thus, nothing can be done. Ah young people, I ask you a question: do you know Christians who are like this? There are, there are! But, a Christian must be courageous in face of a problem, in face of a social, religious crisis he must have the courage to go forward, to go forward with courage. And when nothing can be done, he must endure with patience, he must endure; he must have courage and patience, these two virtues of Paul. Courage: to go forward, to do things, to give strong witness; to go forward! Endure: to bear on one’s shoulders the things that can’t be changed now. But to go forward with patience, with the patience that grace gives us. However, what must we do with courage and patience? We must come out of ourselves, come out of ourselves. We must come out of our communities and go where men and women live, work and suffer and proclaim to them the mercy of the Father who made Himself known to men in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. To proclaim this grace which was given by Jesus. If I asked priests on Maundy Thursday to be shepherds with the scent of sheep, to you, dear brothers and sisters, I say: be bearers everywhere of the Word of life in our neighborhoods, in places of work, and wherever people meet and develop relations. You must go out. I don’t understand Christian communities that are closed in the parish. I want to say something to you. Beautiful in the Gospel is the passage that talks of the shepherd who, when he returns to the fold, realizes that a sheep is missing, he leaves the 99 and goes to look for it, to look for the one <lost>. But, brothers and sisters, we have one; we are missing the 99! We must go out, we must go to them! In this culture -- let’s say the truth to ourselves – we have only one, we are a minority! And do we feel the fervor, the apostolic zeal to go out to look for the other 99? This is a great responsibility, and we must ask the Lord for the grace of generosity, courage and patience to go out, to go out to proclaim the Gospel. Ah, this is difficult. It’s easier to stay at home, with just the one sheep! It’s easier with that sheep, to comb it, to pet it … however, we priests, and also all you Christians: the Lord wants us to be shepherds, not combers of sheep; shepherds! And when a community is closed, always among the same persons who speak, such a community is not one that gives life. It’s a sterile community, not fecund. The fecundity of the Gospel comes by the grace of Jesus Christ, but through us, through our preaching, our courage, and our patience.

This is all somewhat long, no? But it isn’t easy. We must tell the truth: the work of evangelizing, of freely taking grace forward isn’t easy, because we are not alone with Jesus Christ; there is also an adversary, an enemy who wants to keep men separated from God. And because of this, he instills disappointment in hearts, when we don’t see our apostolic commitment recompensed immediately. Every day the devil flings in our hearts seeds of pessimism and bitterness, and we get discouraged, we get discouraged. “It’s not working! We have done this, and it’s not working: we have done that and it’s not working. And look how that religion attracts so many people and we don’t!” It’s the devil who puts these thoughts in us. We must prepare ourselves for the spiritual battle. This is important. The Gospel can’t be preached without this spiritual battle: a daily battle against sadness, against bitterness, against pessimism, a daily battle! It’s not easy to sow. It’s nicer to gather, but to sow isn’t easy, and this is the battle of Christians every day.

Paul said he had the urgency to preach and he had the experience of this spiritual battle, when he said: “I have a thorn of Satan in my flesh and I feel it every day.” We also have thorns of Satan that make us suffer and make us move with difficulty, and how often we are discouraged. We must prepare ourselves for the spiritual battle: evangelization asks real courage from us also for this interior battle, in our heart, to say with prayer, with mortification, with the wish to follow Jesus, with the Sacraments which are an encounter with Jesus, to say to Jesus: thank you, thank you for your grace. I want to take it to others. But this is work, this is work. This is called -- don’t be frightened – it’s called martyrdom. This is martyrdom: to engage in the fight every day, to witness. This is martyrdom. And the Lord asks some the martyrdom of their life, but there is the martyrdom of every day, of every hour: the testimony against the spirit of evil who does not want us to be evangelizers.

And now I would like to end saying one thing. At this time, in which gratuitousness seems to be weakening in inter-personal relations because everything is sold and everything is bought, it’s difficult to find gratuitousness; we Christians proclaim a God who to be our friend doesn’t ask for anything other than to be heard. The only thing that Jesus asks is to be received. We think of all those who live in despair because they have never met someone who showed them that they cared, who consoled them, who made them feel precious and important. Can we, disciples of the Crucified, refuse to go to those places where no one wants to go because of the fear of committing themselves and of others’ judgment, and thus deny to our brothers the proclamation of the Word of God? Gratuitousness! We have received this gratuitousness, this grace, freely; we must give it freely. And this is, finally, what I want to say to you. Be not afraid, be not afraid. Be not afraid of love, of the love of God, our Father. Be not afraid. Be not afraid to receive the grace of Jesus Christ, be not afraid of the freedom that is given us by the grace of Jesus Christ or, as Paul said: “You are no longer under the Law but under grace.” Be not afraid of grace, let’s not be afraid to go out of ourselves, to go out of our Christian communities to go find the 99 that aren’t at home. And go to dialogue with them, and tell them what we think, go to show them our love which is the love of God.

Dear, dear brothers and sisters: let’s not be afraid. Let’s go forward to tell our brothers and our sisters that we are under grace, that Jesus gives us grace and this doesn’t cost anything: just receive it! Onwards!

 

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Pope's Address to Participants of UN Food and Agricultural Organization Conference

VATICAN CITY, June 20, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address to the participants of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Conference who he received in audience today at the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

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Mr President,

Your Excellencies,

Mr Director General,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Continuing a long and meaningful tradition which began sixty years ago, I am pleased to receive you, the participants in the 38th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I thank President Mohammad Asef Rahimi and the representatives of many countries and different cultures who are working together to respond in a fitting way to the primary needs of so many of our brothers and sisters: those of receiving their daily bread and finding a dignified place at the table.

I greet the Director-General, Professor José Graziano da Silva, whom I had occasion to meet at the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome. On that occasion he made it clear to me that the situation worldwide is particularly difficult, not only because of the economic crisis but also due to problems associated with security, the great number of continuing conflicts, climate change and the preservation of biological diversity. All these situations demand of FAO a renewed commitment to tackling the many problems of the agricultural sector and of all those living and working in rural areas.

The initiatives and possible solutions are many, nor are they limited to increasing production. It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.

2. This, I believe, is the significance of our meeting today: to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept. Nor can the current global crisis continue to be used as an alibi. The crisis will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity.

The human person and human dignity risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function. Our duty is to continue to insist, in the present international context, that the human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatc or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences. In this regard, there is a need to oppose the shortsighted economic interests and the mentality of power of a relative few who exclude the majority of the world’s peoples, generating poverty and marginalization and causing a breakdown in society. There is likewise a need to combat the corruption which creates privileges for some and injustices for many others.

3. Our present situation, while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life. This is a larger framework which demands the undertaking of a conscious and sober work of rebuilding, one which also affects FAO. Here I am thinking of the reform the Organization has initiated to ensure a more functional, transparent and impartial operation. This is certainly something positive, yet every authentic reform involves an increased sense of responsibility on the part of everyone, in the realization that our individual fate is linked to that of others. My thoughts turn to the well-known parable in the Gospel where a Samaritan helps someone in need. He is not prompted by philanthropy or the fact that he has money at his disposal, but by a desire to identify with the person he helps: he wants to share his lot. Indeed, after providing for the man’s care, he announces that he will return to inquire after his health. What is involved here is more than mere compassion or perhaps a desire to share or to promote a reconciliation which can overcome differences and disagreements. It is a willingness to share everything and to decide to be Good Samaritans, instead of people who are indifferent to the needs of others.

What is demanded of FAO, its member States, and every institution of the international community, is openness of heart. There is a need to move beyond indifference or a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs, confident that the fruits of today’s work will mature in the future. To move forward constructively and fruitfully in the different functions and responsibilities involves the ability to analyze, understand, and engage, leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

We are all aware that one of the first effects of grave food crises – and not simply those caused by natural disasters or violent conflicts – is the uprooting of individuals, families and communities. The separation is a painful one; it is not limited to their lands, but extends to their entire existential and spiritual environment, threatening and at times shattering their few certainties in life. This process, which is now taking place worldwide, demands that international relations once more be regulated by their underlying ethical principles and recover the authentic spirit of solidarity which can guarantee the effectiveness of every cooperative undertaking.

4. This is clearly seen in the decision to dedicate the coming year to the rural family. Apart from the celebrations themselves, it is necessary to reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others. Over and over again we see that family bonds are essential for the stability of relationships in society, for the work of education and for integral human development, for they are inspired by love, responsible inter-generational solidarity and mutual trust. These are factors which can make even the most adverse situations more bearable, and bring a spirit of true fraternity to our world, enabling it to feel as a single family, where the greatest attention is paid to those most in need.

Acknowledging that the fight against hunger entails the pursuit of dialogue and fraternity means for FAO that its contribution to negotiations between States, giving new impulse to the decision-making processes, must be marked by the promotion of the culture of encounter and of solidarity. But this also calls for willingness on the part of the member States, a complete knowledge of particular situations, suitable preparation, and ideas which take into account every individual and every community. Only thus will it be possible to combine the thirst for justice experienced by billions of people with the concrete realities of today’s world.

The Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by FAO. I thank you for this opportunity to meet you, and I bless the work which you carry out daily in the service of the least of our brothers and sisters.

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June 21, 2013    For three years now, the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation has given out the most prestigious award for theological research. This year's winners are German theologian, Christian Schaller, a professor of Dogmatic Theology and deputy director of Benedict XVI's Institute of Regensburg. Also awarded was Richard Burridge. He's the Dean of King's College London and as an Anglican, he is the first non Catholic to receive the award.

MSGR. GIUSEPPE SCOTTI

Foundation President Joseph Ratzinger  Benedict XVI

“I hope this shows that from the very start, the foundation has considered not only Catholics, but all believers. This awards shows, that many people love Jesus, not just those in the Catholic Church. When we told Burridge that he had won the prize, he was very surprised, excited and astonished. He thought it was a great honor. It's nice to know that he, as an Anglican, is still excited to receive the award. He recognizes that it is indeed a great honour."

Pope Francis will personally give the award to the two recipients on October 26, during a Ratzinger Foundation Congress. The topic of that meeting will be on  Benedict XVI's trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth.

MSGR. LUIS ROMERA

President Pontifical Universities Association

“I think the field of theology has taken a great interest in his work. Benedict XVI's writings are a way to renew how Christians see Christ, through an intellectual point of view. This will help readers in their spirituality, giving them the opportunity to enjoy this book further.”

These will be the first Ratzinger awards to be given out, after Benedict XVI's resignation. It's unknown if he will take part in any of these events, but organizers say, he will more than likely send a message.

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Pope Francis' Address to Pontifical Representatives and Apostolic Nuncios

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the Pontifical Representatives and Apostolic Nuncios during his audience at the Vatican today.

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Dear Brothers,

These days, in the Year of Faith, are offered to us by the Lord as an occasion to pray together, to reflect together and to share a fraternal moment. I thank Cardinal Bertone for the words he addressed to me on your behalf, but I would like to thank each of you for your service which aids me in solicitude for all of the Churches, in the ministry of unity that is central to the Successor of Peter. You represent me in Churches spread throughout the world and with the Governments, but seeing so many of you today also gives me the sense of the catholicity of the Church, of its universality. I thank you wholeheartedly!

Now I would like to offer you some simple thoughts on certain, I would say existential, aspects of your being Papal Representatives. These are things I reflected on in my heart, above all by trying to place myself alongside to each one of you. In this meeting, I do not want to address purely formal or perfunctory words to you. What I now say comes from deep within my heart.

1. First of all, let me point out that yours is a nomadic life. Every three years, four for collaborators, a little more for Nuncios, you change place, passing from one continent to another, from one country to another, from one, often very different, Church reality to another, you always have a suitcase at hand. I ask myself the question: what does this life tell us? What spiritual sense does it have? I would say that it give us the sense of a journey, which is central to the life of faith, beginning with Abraham, a man of faith on a journey: God asks him to leave his country, his security, to go, trusting in a promise, which he does not see, but which he simply keeps in his heart like the hope which God offers him (cf. Gen 12:1-9). And this involves two elements. First, mortification, the sacrifice of stripping oneself of things, friends, bonds and of always beginning anew. And this is not easy; it means living in the interim, going outside of yourselves, without ever having a place to put down roots, a stable community, yet loving the Church and the Country that you are called to serve. A second aspect that involves this being nomads, always on the road, is what is described in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Listing examples of the faith of the fathers, the author says that they saw the promised goods and greeted them from afar, declaring that they were pilgrims on this earth (cf. 11:13). Such a life is of great worth, a life like yours, when lived with an intensity of love, with an active memory of the first call.

2. I would like to pause for a moment the aspect of "seeing from afar." What did the fathers of the Old Testament see from afar? The goods promised by God. Each of us may wonder: what is my promise? What do I see? What I am looking for in life? What our founding memory pushes us to seek is the Lord, He is the promised goods. We must never take this for granted . On April 25, 1951, in a famous speech, the then Substitute Secretary of State, Monsignor Montini, recalled that the figure of the Papal Representative "is one who is really conscious of the fact that he carries Christ with him" as the precious good to be communicated, announced, represented. Goods, the prospects of this world end up disappointing, they push people to never be satisfied; the Lord is the good that does not disappoint. And this demands a self-detachment that can only be achieved through a constant relationship with the Lord and the unification of ones life around Christ. Familiarity with Jesus Christ must be the daily food of the Papal Representative, because it is the food that comes from the memory of our first encounter with Him, and also because it is the daily expression of loyalty to His call. Familiarity with Jesus Christ in prayer, celebration of the Eucharist, in the service of charity.

3. There is always the danger, even for the men of the Church, to surrender to what I call, taking an expression from De Lubac, "spiritual worldliness": to surrender to the spirit of the world, which leads to action for self-fulfillment and not for the glory of God (cf. Meditation on the Church, Milan 1979, p. 269), in that sort of "bourgeoisie spirit and life" which leads people to settle and seek a peaceful and comfortable life. Speaking to Alumni of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy I remembered how for Blessed John XXIII, his service as a Papal Representative was one of the areas, and not secondary, in which his holiness took shape, and I quoted some passages from the Journal of a Soul relating to this long stretch of his ministry. He claimed to have increasingly understood that, for effectiveness of action, he had to continually prune the vineyard of his life from that which was merely useless foliage and go straight to the essentials, which is Christ and his Gospel, otherwise there was the risk of ridiculing a holy mission (Journal of a Soul, Cinisello Balsamo 2000, pp.. 513-514). These are strong but true words: giving in to worldly spirit exposes us Pastors to ridicule, perhaps we may be applauded by some, but those same people who seem to approve of us, then criticize us behind our backs.

We are pastors! And that we must not ever forget that! Dear Papal Representatives, be the presence of Christ, be a priestly presence, as Pastors. Of course, you will not teach a particular portion of the People of God entrusted to you, you will not guide a local church, but you are Pastors who serve the Church, with the role to encourage, to be ministers of communion, and also with the not always easy task of reprimanding. Always do everything with deep love! Even in relations with the Civil Authorities and your Colleagues you are Pastors: always seek the good, the good of all, the good of the Church and of every person.

I would like to conclude by saying just one word about one of the important points of your service as Papal Representatives, at least for the vast majority: collaboration in providing bishops. You know the famous expression that indicates a fundamental criterion in choosing who should govern: si sanctus est oret pro nobis, si doctus est doceat nos, si prudens est regat nos - if holy let him pray for us, if learned teach us, if prudent govern us. In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers, that they are gentle, patient and merciful; animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life, that they do not have the psychology of "Princes".

Be careful that they are not ambitious, that they do not seek the episcopate - volentes nolumus - and that they are married to a Church without being in constant search of another. That they are able to "watch over" the flock that will be entrusted to them, take care to keep it united, vigilant of the dangers that threaten it, but above all that they are able to "watch over" the flock, to keep watch, imbue hope, that they have sun and light in their hearts, to lovingly and patiently support the plans which God brings about in His people. Let us think of the figure of St. Joseph, who watches over Mary and Jesus, of his care for the family that God entrusted to him, and the watchful gaze with which he guides it in avoiding dangers. For this reason Pastors must know how to be ahead of the herd to point the way, in the midst of the flock to keep it united, behind the flock to prevent someone being left behind, so that the same flock, so to speak, has the sense of smell to find its way.

Dear papal representatives, these are just a few thoughts that come from my heart, with which I do not pretend to say new things, but on which I invite you to reflect on the important and valuable service that you make for the whole Church. Your life is often difficult, sometimes in places of conflict - I know it well - a continuous pilgrimage without the ability to put down roots in one place, in one culture, in a specific ecclesial reality. But it is a life that walks towards promises and greets them from afar. A life on the road, but always with Jesus Christ who holds you by the hand. Thank you again for this! We know that our stability does not lie in things, in our own projects or ambitions, but in being true Pastors who keep our gaze fixed on Christ. Once again, thank you! Please, I ask you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Mary keep you.

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Pope's Address to Participants of the 86th Assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address the Pope gave to the participants in the 86th Assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (R.O.A.C.O.), which was held in Rome on the topic: “The Situation of Christians and of the Churches in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the Holy Land.”

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Dear Friends,

Welcome! I receive you with joy to render thanksgiving to the Lord, together with the brothers and sisters of the East, represented here by some of their Pastors and by you, Superiors and Collaborators of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and members of the Agencies that make up ROACO. We are pleasing to God because of our fidelity to Christ, to the Gospel and to the Church, of which the Eastern Catholics have given proof throughout the centuries, making every effort for the Christian name and “keeping the faith” (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-8). We are close to them in gratitude. I extend my thank you to each of you, and to the Churches of which you are expression, for all that you do in their favor and I return the cordial greeting addressed to me by the Cardinal Prefect. As my Predecessors, I wish to encourage and support you in the exercise of charity, which is the only reason to boast for the disciples of Jesus. This charity flows from the love of God in Christ: the Cross is the summit, luminous sign of the mercy and charity of God towards all, which was poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 5:5).

It is a duty for me to exhort to charity, which is inseparable from that faith in which the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter, is held to confirm the brethren. The Year of Faith drives us to profess even more convincingly the love of God in Christ Jesus. I ask you to support me in the task of joining faith to charity, which is innate to the Petrine service. Saint Ignatius of Antioch has a dense expression with which he describes the Church of Rome: “the Church that presides in charity” (Letter to the Romans, greeting). I invite you, therefore, to collaborate “in the faith and charity of Jesus Christ our God” (Ibid.), reminding you that our work will be effective only if it is rooted in faith, nourished by prayer, especially by the Holy Eucharist , Sacrament of faith and of charity.

Dear friends, this is the first witness we must give in our service to God and to the brethren, and only in this way will every action of ours be fruitful. Continue your intelligent and solicitous work in carrying out well pondered and coordinated projects, which give opportune priority to formation, especially of young people. However, never forget that these projects must be a sign of that profession of love of God that constitutes the Christian identity. In the multiplicity of her components and activities, the Church does not find her security in human means. The Church is God’s, she trusts in His presence and action, and brings to the world the power of God which is love. May the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente be for you a precious reference in your service.

The presence of the Patriarchs of Alexandria of the Copts and of Babylon of the Chaldeans, as well as the Papal Representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria, of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and of the Custos of the Holy Land, takes me with the heart to the Holy Places of our Redemption, and revives in me the intense ecclesial concern for the condition of so many brothers and sisters who live in a situation of insecurity and violence that seems interminable and does not spare the innocent and the weakest. Requested of us believers is constant and confident prayer, that the Lord may grant the longed-for peace, unity in sharing and concrete solidarity. I would like to address again from the depth of my heart an appeal to the leaders of peoples and the international organizations, to believers of every religion and to men and women of good will, so that an end will be brought to all sorrow, all violence, all religious , cultural and social discrimination. May the clash that sows death give way to the encounter and reconciliation that brings life. To all those who are suffering I say forcefully: never lose hope! The Church is on your side, she supports and sustains you! I ask that everything possible be done to relieve the grave needs of the stricken populations, in particular the Syrian, as well as the ever more numerous fugitives and refugees. In fact Saint Ignatius of Antioch asked the Christians of Rome: remember in your prayer the Church of Syria … Jesus Christ will watch over her and your charity” (Letter to the Romans IX, I). I entrust to the Lord of life the innumerable victims and I implore the Most Holy Mother of God for all those who are in the “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14).

I impart from my heart upon you, upon the Agencies and upon all the Oriental Churches the Apostolic Blessing.

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Angelus

VATICAN CITY, June 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel reports one of Jesus’ most incisive statements: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).

Here there is a synthesis of Christ’s message and it is expressed with a very effective paradox, which informs us of his way of speaking, it almost makes us hear his voice...

But what does it mean “to lose your life for Jesus’ sake”? This can happen in 2 ways: explicitly confessing the faith or implicitly defending the truth. The martyrs are the supreme example of losing one’s life for Christ. In two thousand years there has been a great multitude of men and women who have sacrificed their life to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world there are many, many – more than in previous centuries – many martyrs, who give their life for Christ, who are put to death for not rejecting Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the previous centuries! But there is also daily martyrdom, which does not bring death but is also a “losing one’s life” for Christ, duty your duty with love, following the logic of Jesus, the logic of the gift, of sacrifice. Let us think of how many fathers and mothers put their faith in practice by concretely offering their life for the good of the family! Think about these people! How many priests, brothers, sisters carry out their service for the kingdom of God with generosity! How many young people renounce their own interests to care for children, the disabled, the elderly... They too are martyrs! Daily martyrs, martyrs of daily life!

And then there are many people, Christians and non-Christians, who “lose their life” for truth. And Christ said, “I am the truth,” so whoever serves the truth serves Christ.

One of these people, who gave his life for the truth, is John the Baptist. In fact,tomorrow, June 24, is his great feast, the solemnity of his birth. John was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus, and he pointed him out to the people of Israel as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29). John consecrated himself entirely to God and to the one he sent, Jesus. But in the end, what happened? He died for the sake of truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth! How many just men prefer to go against the current so as not to reject the voice of conscience, the voice of truth! Just persons, who are not afraid to go against the current! And we, we must not have fear to go against the current, when they want to steel our hope, when they propose these rotten values, values that are like food that has gone bad and when food has gone bad, it makes us sick; these values make us sick. We must go against the current! And you young people, you must be the first: Go against the current and be proud to go against the current. Forward, be courageous and go against the current! Be proud to do it!

Dear friends, let us welcome these words of Jesus. It is a rule of life proposed to everyone. And St. John the Baptist helps us to put them into practice.

On this path we are, as always, preceded by our Mother, Mary Most Holy: she lost her life for Jesus, going to the cross, and she received it [back] in fullness, with all the light and beauty of the Resurrection. May Mary help us always make the logic of the Gospel our own.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father spoke these words to those who were present:]

Remember this well: do not be afraid to go against the current! Be courageous! And just as we do not want to eat spoiled food, we must not have these rotten values that ruin life and take away hope. Forward!

I greet with affection the families, the parish groups, the associations, the schools. I greet the students of the diocesan high school of Vipàva in Slovenia; the Polish community of Ascoli Piceno (Italy); the UNITALSI (National Italian Transport Union of Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) of Ischia di Castro (Italy); the young people of the Oratory of Urgnano (Italy) – I see their banner here: Great, you are great! – the faithful of Pordenone (Italy); the sisters and workers of Miulli Hospital of Acquaviva delle Fonti (Italy); a group of union members from the Region of Veneto (Italy).

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

Pray for me and have a good lunch!

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Pope Francis' Address to Sts. Peter and Paul Association

VATICAN CITY, June 24, 2013  - Here is a translation of Pope Francis' address to the Sts. Peter and Paul Association, which offers support to pilgrims at St. Peter’s Basilica and assists at papal liturgies.

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Hello!

I want to say thank you, many thanks! From the start you accompanied me with your prayer, with your affection and your precious service in various celebrations. For this I thank you from my heart.

I know that “behind the scenes” there is a lot of organizational work. And I know that, besides your service of welcome in the Basilica of St. Peter, for your liturgical celebrations, your apostolate also extends to cultural and charitable activities. Charity – concrete attention toward others, toward the poor, weak and needy – is above all a distinguishing mark of the Christian. You also have an intense program of formation for candidates and young apprentices who want to participate in the life of your association. Growing in the knowledge and love of God is essential for bringing his mercy to all and living it, seeing his Face in the face of those we meet. For all of this, I would like to express my appreciation and my gratitude. I also congratulate the 22 new members who made their promises this morning: may Christ’s love always be your certainty, to be his generous and convinced witnesses!

It is wonderful to be a part of an association, like yours, composed of men of different ages, united in a common desire to bear special witness of Christian life, serving the Church and our brothers without asking anything in exchange. This is beautiful: to serve without asking anything in exchange, as Jesus did. Jesus served all of us and asked nothing in exchange! Jesus did things gratuitously and you do things gratuitously. Your recompense is just this: the joy to serve the Lord and to do it together! Know him more and more with prayer, with days of retreat, with meditation on his Word, with the study of the Catechism, to love him more and more with a generous and big heart, with magnanimity. This beautiful Christian virtue, magnanimity, having a big heart, expanding your heart always, with patience, loving everyone – and not that pettiness that is harmful to us, but magnanimity; with it your witness will be more convincing and effective, and your service will be better and more joyful.

I entrust all of you to the maternal protection of Our Lady, and to the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul. I pray also for your families, especially the sick, and for your children, who are growing. I saw many children here, it is beautiful, it is beautiful! Continue to pray for me. I give you all my blessing with affection. Thank you!

Now I will give you the blessing. Think of all those whom you love: your family, friends, so that the blessing pass to them. But also think of some of those people whom you do not love very much, people who hurt you, people with whom you are a little angry. Think of them to and that the blessing is also for them.

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Pope's Address on 50th Anniversary of Paul VI's Election
"Jesus is more necessary than ever for the man of today"

VATICAN CITY, June 25, 2013  - Here is a translation of the Pope's address Saturday to participants in a pilgrimage from the Italian Diocese of Brescia.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese of Brescia,

Good morning!

I thank you because you give me the possibility of sharing with you the memory of the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI. I greet you all affectionately, beginning with your bishop, Monsignor Luciano Monari, to whom I am grateful for his kind words. I greet the priests, the men and women religious and lay faithful. This is your pilgrimage in the Year of Faith, and it is good that you wished to make it, on the 50th anniversary of the election of your great fellow-countryman Paul VI.

There are so many things that I would like to say and recall about this great Pontiff. Thinking of him, I will limit myself to three fundamental aspects that he witnessed and taught us, letting his impassioned words illustrate him: the love of Christ, the love of the Church and the love of man. These three words are fundamental but also passionate attitudes.

In difficult years, Paul VI was able to witness faith in Jesus Christ. Still resonating, more intensely than ever, is his invocation: “You are necessary, O Christ!” Yes, Jesus is more necessary than ever for the man of today, for the world of today, because in the “deserts” of the secular city He speaks to us of God, He reveals His face to us. The total love of Christ emerges in Montini’s whole life, also in the choice of his name as Pope, motivated by him with these words: He is the Apostle “who loved Christ supremely, who in the highest degree desired and made the effort to take the Gospel of Christ to all peoples, who offered his life for love of Christ” (Homily [June 30, 1963]: AAS 55 [1963], 619). And he pointed out this same totality to the Council in the opening address of the Second Session at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, pointing to the great mosaic of the Basilica in which Pope Honorius III appears in miniscule proportions at the feet of the great figure of Christ. So was the Council’s Assembly itself: at the feet of Christ, to be His servants and the servants of His Gospel (cf. Address [September 29, 1963]: AAS 55 [1963], 846-847).

He had a profound love for Christ, not to possess Him but to proclaim Him. We recall his passionate words at Manila: “Christ! Yes, I feel the necessity of proclaiming Him, I cannot be silent about Him! … He is the revealer of the invisible God, He is the first born of all creatures, He is the foundation of everything. He is the Teacher of humanity, He is the Redeemer. He is the center of history and of the world. He is the One who knows and loves us. He is the companion and friend of our life. He is the Man of sorrows and of hope. He is the one who must come one day to be our Judge and, we hope, the eternal fullness of our existence, our happiness” (Homily [November 27, 1970]: AAS 63 [1971], 32). These passionate words are great words. But I confide something to you. This address at Manila, and also that of Nazareth, were spiritual strength for me. They have done me so much good in life. And I go back to this address, I go back and back to it, because it does me good to hear this word of Paul VI today. And we, do we have the same love of Christ? Is He the center of our life? Do we witness Him in our actions every day?

The second point: love of the Church, a passionate love, love of a whole life, joyful and deeply-felt, expressed already in his very first encyclical, Ecclesiam suam. Paul VI lived fully the suffering of the Church after Vatican II, the lights, the hopes, the tensions. He loved the Church and spent himself for her without reservations. In Thought of Death he wrote: I would like to embrace her, greet her, love her in every being that is part of her, in every bishop and priest that assists and guides her, in every soul that lives and illustrates her.” And in the Testament he addressed her with these words: “Receive with my blessed greeting my supreme act of love!” (Teachings [Insegnamenti] XVI [1978], 592). This is the heart of a true Pastor, of a genuine Christian, of a man capable of loving! Paul VI had a very clear vision that the Church is a Mother that bears Christ and takes Christ. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi – for me the greatest pastoral document that has been written up to today – he posed this question: “After the Council and thanks to the Council, which was for her an hour of God in this brief period of history, does the Church feel or not feel herself more able to proclaim the Gospel and to insert it in man’s heart with conviction, freedom of spirit and efficacy?” (December 8, 1975, n. 4: AAS 69 [1976], 7). And he continued: is the Church “truly rooted in the heart of the world and yet sufficiently free and independent to interpellate the world? Does she give witness of her solidarity with men and, at the same time, with the Absolute of God? Is she more ardent in contemplation and in adoration, and at the same time more zealous in her missionary, charitable and liberating action? Is she ever more committed in the effort to seek the re-establishment of the full unity of Christians, which renders common witness more effective “so that the world will believe”? (Ibid., n. 76: AAS 68 [1976], 67). These are questions addressed also to our Church of today, to all of us, we are all responsible for the answers and we must ask ourselves: are we really a Church united with Christ to go out and proclaim Him to all, also and above all to those that I call the “existential peripheries,” or are we shut in on ourselves, in our groups, in our small coteries? Do we love the great Church, the Mother Church, the Church that sends us on mission and makes us come out of ourselves?

And the third element: love of man. This is also linked to Christ, it is God’s passion itself that spurs us to encounter man, respect him, recognize him and serve him. In the last Session of Vatican II, Paul VI gave an address that on rereading it, strikes one every time. In particular where he speaks of the Council’s attention to contemporary man. And he says: “Profane, secular humanism has appeared in the end in its terrible stature and, in a certain sense, it has challenged the Council. The religion of the God who became man encountered the religion of man who makes himself God. What has happened? A clash, a fight, an anathema? It could have been, but it didn’t happen. The old story of the Samaritan was the paradigm of the Council’s spirituality. An immense sympathy pervaded everything. The discovery of human needs. Give it credit for this at least, you modern humanists, who renounce the transcendence of supreme things, and you will recognize our new humanism: we also, we more than all, are the lovers of man” (Homily [December 7, 1965]: AAS 58 [1966]. 55-56). And with a global glance at the work of the Council, he observed: “All this doctrinal richness is geared in one direction: to serve man. Man, we say, in his every condition, in his every infirmity, in his every necessity. The Church has virtually declared herself the handmaid of humanity” (Ibid., 57). And this gives us light also today, in this world where man is denied, where there is preference to go by the way of Gnosticism, by the way of Pelagianism, or of “no flesh” – a God who did not become flesh -- or the “no God” -- Promethean man who can go forward. At this time, we can say the same things Paul VI said: the Church is the handmaid of man; the Church believes in Christ who came in the flesh and because of this serves man, loves man, believes in man. This is the inspiration of the great Paul VI.

Dear friends, it does us good to meet in the name of the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI! His witness enkindles in us the flame of love of Christ, of love of the Church, of the rush to proclaim the Gospel to the man of today, with mercy, patience, courage and joy. I thank you once again for this. I entrust you all to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and I bless you all from my heart, along with your loved ones, especially the children and the sick.

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Pope Francis' Chirograph Establishing Pontifical Commission For IOR

VATICAN CITY, June 27, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' Chirograph Establishing a Pontifical Commission for the Institute of Religious Works

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With his Chirograph of 1 March 1990, Blessed John Paul II established the Institute for the Works of Religion as a public juridical entity, giving the Institute a new configuration while maintaining its name and purpose. With the same perspective, taking into account that he wished to better adapt the Institute's structures and activities to the needs of the times; following the invitation of Our Predecessor Benedict XVI to allow the Gospel principles to permeate even the activities of an economic and financial nature; having heard the opinion of various Cardinals and other brothers in the Episcopate as well as other collaborators; and in light of the need to introduce reforms in the Institutions that give aid to the Apostolic See; We have decided to establish a Referring Commission for the Institute for the Works of Religion that will gather accurate information on the Institute's legal position and various activities, in order to allow, if necessary, a better harmonization of the same with the universal mission of the Apostolic See. The Commission is to carry out its proper duties in accordance with this Chirograph and Our working arrangements.

1) The Commission shall consist of a minimum of five Members, among which is a President who is its legal representative, a Coordinator who has the ordinary powers of delegation and acts on behalf of the Commission in collecting documents, data, and the necessary information, as well as a Secretary who assists the members and keeps the acts.

2) The Commission is endowed with the powers and faculties appropriate to performing its official institutional duties within the limits established by this Chirograph and the norms of the juridical system. The Commission is to collect the documents, data, and information necessary to the performance of its official institutional duties. Workplace confidentiality and other restrictions established by the juridical system shall not inhibit or limit the Commission's access to documents, data, or information, except as subject to the norms that protect the autonomy and independence of the Authorities that are engaged in the supervision and regulation of the Institute, which shall remain in force.

3) The Commission shall have the human and material resources appropriate to its institutional functions. If needed, it shall make use of contractors and consultants.

4) The governance of the Institute shall continue to operate in accordance with the Chirograph that established it, unless We provide for otherwise.

5) The Commission shall rely upon the willing cooperation of the Bodies of the Institute along with its entire staff. In addition, the Superiors, Members, and Officials of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the other agencies related to it as well as the Vatican City State shall likewise cooperate with the Commission.

6) The Commission shall keep Us informed of its proper activities in the course of its work.

7) The Commission will deliver to Us the results of its work, as well as its entire archive, in a timely manner upon the conclusion of its tasks.

8) The Commission's activities shall take effect from the date of this present Chirograph.9) The dissolution of the Commission will be announced.

Given at the Vatican on 24 June 2013, in the first year of my Pontificate.

Francis

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Pope Francis' Address to Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

VATICAN CITY, June 28, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address to the members of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on the occasion of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

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Dear Brothers in Christ,

I am particularly happy to receive you with a warm welcome in the Church of Rome, which is celebrating her Patron Saints Peter and Paul. Your presence at this event is the sign of the profound bond that unites the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Rome in faith, hope and charity. The beautiful custom of an exchange of delegations between our Churches for the respective patronal feasts, which began in 1969, is for me a cause for great joy: our fraternal meeting is an essential part of the journey towards unity. I would like to express my profound gratitude to His Holiness Bartholomew I and to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who wished to send, also this year, high representatives. Of His Holiness Bartholomew I, I also recall with fraternal affection his gesture of exquisite attention in my meetings, when he wished to honor me with his presence in the celebration of the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome. I am also extremely grateful to Your Eminence for your participation in that event and I am happy to see you again in this circumstance.

The search for unity among Christians is an urgency from which today, more than ever, we cannot subtract ourselves. In our world, hungry and thirsty for truth, love, hope, peace and unity, it is important for our own witness to be able to, finally, proclaim with one voice the happy news of the Gospel and to celebrate together the Divine Mysteries of our new life in Christ! We know well that unity is primarily a gift from God for which we must pray incessantly for, but to all of us have the task of preparing the conditions, of cultivating the ground of the heart, so that this extraordinary grace will be received.

A fundamental contribution to the search for full communion between Catholics and Orthodox is offered by the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue, co-presided by Your Eminence, Metropolitan Ioannis, and by the Venerable Brother , Cardinal Kurt Koch. I thank you sincerely for your precious and tireless commitment. This Commission has already produced many common texts and is now studying the delicate topic of the theological and ecclesiological relation between primacy and ecclesiastical governing in the life of the Church. It is significant that today we succeed in reflecting together, in truth and in charity, on these topics, beginning with what we have in common, without hiding, however, what still separates us. It is not a question of a mere theoretical exercise, but to know in depth the reciprocal traditions to understand them and, at times, to learn from them. I am referring, for instance, to the reflection of the Catholic Church on the meaning of episcopal collegiality, and to the tradition of, so typical of the Orthodox Churches. I am confident that the effort of common reflection, so complex and laborious, will bear fruits in its time. I am comforted to know that Catholics and Orthodox share the same concept of dialogue, which does not seek a theological minimalism on which to bring about a compromise, but, rather, is based on deeper reflection on the one truth that Christ has given His Church and that we do not cease to understand ever better, moved by the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we must not be afraid of meeting and of true dialogue. It does not distance us from the truth, rather, through an exchange of gifts, it leads us, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, to the whole Truth (cf. John 16:13).

Venerable Brothers, I thank you once again for being here with us on the occasion of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. We confidently invoke their intercession and that of the Holy Apostle Andrew, brother of Peter, for our faithful and for the needs of the whole world, above all of the poor, the suffering and all those who are unjustly persecuted because of their faith. I ask you finally to pray for me and to have others pray for me, that the Lord may assist me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

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Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul, June 29

Pope Francis confers Pallium on 24 metropolitans

To reflect Francis' changes on delivery, the Pope's unscripted asides are added in brackets below to the Vatican's English translation of the preach as initially prepared....  

Your Eminences,

 [Your Eminence, Metropolitan Ioannis,]

 Brother Bishops and Priests,

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, principal patrons of the Church of Rome: a celebration made all the more joyful by the presence of bishops from throughout the world. A great wealth, which makes us in some sense relive the event of Pentecost. Today, as then, the faith of the Church speaks in every tongue and desire to unite all peoples in one family.

I offer a heartfelt and grateful greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis. I thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I for this renewed gesture of fraternity. I greet the distinguished ambassadors and civil authorities. And in a special way I thank the Thomanerchor, the Choir of the Thomaskirche of Leipzig – Bach’s own church – which is contributing to today’s liturgical celebration and represents an additional ecumenical presence.

I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm”. What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm?

1. First, to confirm in faith. The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven. Because of this confession, Jesus replies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (v. 18). The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high. In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms. When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: “He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him ... This must never happen to you” (16:22). Jesus’ response is harsh: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (v. 23). Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks. Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!

2. To confirm in love. In the second reading we heard the moving words of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). But what is this fight? It is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world; rather, it is the fight of martyrdom. Saint Paul has but one weapon: the message of Christ and the gift of his entire life for Christ and for others. It is precisely this readiness to lay himself open, personally, to be consumed for the sake of the Gospel, to make himself all things to all people, unstintingly, that gives him credibility and builds up the Church. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers. [And not only the Bishop of Rome: each of you, new archbishops and bishops, have the same task: to let yourselves be consumed by the Gospel, to become all things to everyone. It is your task to hold nothing back, to go outside of yourselves in the service of the faithful and holy people of God.]  

3. To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. Vatican II, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). [To confirm in unity: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primate. Let us go forward on the path of synodality, and grow in harmony with the service of the primacy.] And [the Council] continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: [there is no other Catholic way to be united. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in our differences. T]his is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, [with the Synod of Bishops,] also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian. May the holy Mother of God guide us and accompany us always with her intercession. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.

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On the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, June 29, is the solemn feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It is in a special way the feast of the Church of Rome, founded on the martyrdom of these 2 Apostles. But it is also a great feast for the universal Church because the whole People of God are in their debt for the gift of faith. Peter was the first to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Paul spread this teaching throughout the Greco-Roman world. And Providence willed that both come here to Rome and here shed blood for the faith. Because of this the Church of Rome immediately, spontaneously became the reference point for the all the Churches in the world. It was not by the power of the Empire but by the force of martyrdom, of witness to Christ! At bottom, it is always and only the love of Christ that generates faith and moves the Church forward.

We think of Peter. When he confessed his faith in Jesus he did not do it through his human powers but because he was conquered by the grace that Jesus unleashed, by the love that he heard in his worlds and saw in his actions. Jesus was the love of God in person! And the same thing happened to Paul, even if in a different way. From the time he was a young man Paul was an enemy of the Christians and when Jesus called him on the road to Damascus his life was transformed: he understood that Jesus was not dead, but alive, and loved him, his enemy, too! This is the experience of mercy, of the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ: this is the Good News, the Gospel that Peter and Paul experienced in themselves and for which they gave their lives. Mercy, forgiveness! The Lord always forgives us, the Lord has mercy, is mercy, has a merciful heart and he always waits for us. Dear brothers, what a joy to believe in God who is all love, all grace! This is the faith that Peter and Paul have received from Christ and have transmitted to the Church. Let us praise the Lord these 2 glorious witnesses, and like them let us allow ourselves to be conquered by Christ, by the mercy of Christ.

Let us also remember that Simon Peter had a brother, Andrew, who shared the experience of faith in Jesus with him. Indeed, Andrew met Jesus before Simon, and he immediately spoke to his brother about Jesus and brought him to him. I am glad to recall this because today, according to the beautiful tradition, the delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who has the Apostle Andrew as patron, is present in Rome. We all send our cordial greeting to Patriarch Bartholomew I and we pray for him and that Church. I also invite all of you to pray together an Ave Maria for Patriarch Bartholomew I. Everyone together, Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Let us also pray for the metropolitan archbishops of the different Churches of the world to whom I just gave the pallium, the symbol of communion and unity.

May our beloved Mother, Mary Most Holy, accompany and sustain us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

With joy I greet the pilgrims who have come from different countries to celebrate the metropolitan archbishops. I pray for all of their communities; in particular I encourage the people of central Africa, sorely tried, to walk in faith and hope.

I greet everyone with affection: families, the faithful of many parishes and associations, especially of Iglesias (Sardinia), of the city of Aragona (Sicily) and of Casale Popolo (Piedmont).

I wish everyone a good feast and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On the freedom that comes from God

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 9:51-62) contains a very important passage about the life of Christ. It is the moment in which, as St. Luke writes, “Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (9:51). Jerusalem is the final goal, where Jesus, at his last Passover, must die and rise again, and in this way carry out his mission of salvation.

From that moment, after that resolute decision, Jesus aims right at the target, and he clearly sets out the conditions to those whom he meets and ask to follow him: there is no stable place to live; they must be detach themselves from concern for human respect; they must not give in to nostalgia for the past.

But Jesus also says to his disciples, who are charged with preceding him on the road to Jerusalem to announce his passage, not to impose anything: if they are not accepted, they are to go elsewhere, they move forward. Jesus never imposes anything, Jesus is humble, Jesus invites. If you wish, come. This is Jesus’ humility: he always invites, he never imposes.

All of this makes us think. It tells us, for example, about the importance that, conscience had even for Jesus: hearing the Father’s voice and following him. Jesus, in his earthly existence, was not, so to speak, “remote controlled.” He was the incarnate Word, the Son of God made man, and at a certain point he firmly decided to go up to Jerusalem for the last time; it was a decision he made with his conscience, but he did not do it alone: he did it together with the Father, in full union with him! He decided in obedience to the Father, listening carefully, in intimacy, to his will. And because of this the decision was firm, because it was made together with the Father. And in the Father Jesus found the strength and the light for his journey. And Jesus was free, in that decision he was free. Jesus wants us Christians to be free like him, with that freedom that comes from this dialogue with the Father, from this dialogue with God. Jesus does not want egotistical Christians, who follow their own “I,” who do not speak with God; nor does he want weak Christians, Christians without a will, Christians who are “remote controlled,” incapable of creativity, who always seek to link themselves to someone else’s will and are not free. Jesus wants us to be free but where is this freedom found? It is found in dialogue with God in our conscience. If a Christian does not know how to speak with God, does not know how to listen to God in his own conscience, he is not free, he is not free.

For this reason we must learn how to listen more to our conscience. But be careful! This does not mean following our own “I,” do that which interests me, is convenient for me, that I like... It is not this! Our conscience is the interior place where we listen to truth, to goodness, where we listen to God; it is the interior place of my relation to him, the one who speaks to my heart and helps me discern, to understand the road that I must take, and once the decision is made, he helps me to go forward, to remain faithful.

We have a marvelous example of what this relationship with God in our conscience is like, a recent marvelous example. Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord made him understand, in prayer, what was the step that he had to take. He followed – with a great sense of discernment and courage – his conscience, that is, the will of God that spoke in his heart. And this example of our Father is good for all of us, as an example to follow.

Deep inside herself Our Lady, with great simplicity, listened and meditated on the Word of God and on that which happened to Jesus. She followed her Son with intimate conviction, with firm hope. Mary helps us to become more and more men and women of conscience, free in conscience, because it is in conscience that there is dialogue with God. She helps us to become more and more men and women capable of listening to God’s voice and of following it with decision.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Italy we celebrate the Day of the Pope’s Charity. I would like to thank the bishops and all the parishes, especially the poorest ones, for the prayers and offerings that support so many pastoral and charitable initiatives of the Successor of Peter in every part of the world. Thanks to all of you!

From my heart I greet all of the pilgrims present, in particular the many faithful who have come from Germany. I also greet the pilgrims from Madrid, Augsburg, Sonnino, Casarano, Lenola, Sambucetole and Montegranaro; the group of lay Dominicans, the Apostolic Fraternity of the Divine Mercy of Piazza Armerina, the Friends of the Missions of the Most Precious Blood, the National Italian Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and to International Shrines (UNITALSI) of Ischia di Castro and the young people of Latisana.

I ask you to pray for me. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope Francis' Message to Youth of Lithuania

VATICAN CITY, July 01, 2013 - Here is the translation of the message sent by Pope Francis to the youth of Lithuania who were gathered in Kaunas for the "Sixth Day of Young People".

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Dear Young People of Lithuania,

I am truly happy to be spiritually present in your midst and to give you my affectionate greeting on the occasion of the “Sixth Day of Young People,” that sees you gathered in such numbers at Kaunas. I address a particular thought to all those among you who are following the itinerary of full dedication to God in the priesthood and in consecrated life, as well as to all those who are committed in the service of the least through the forms of volunteer work. I greet and thank your Pastors, who planned these special days of prayer and reflection, centered on the topic “I Have Called Your Friends” (John 15:15).

In fact, beginning from this word of the Lord, I would like to offer some brief thoughts for your spiritual growth and your mission within the Church and in the world. Jesus wants to be your friend, your brother, teacher of truth and life who reveals the way to follow to attain happiness, the fulfillment of yourselves according to God’s plan for each one of you. And this friendship of Jesus, that bring us mercy, the love of God, is “free,” a pure gift. He doesn’t ask you for anything in return, but asks you only to receive it. Jesus wants to love you for what you are, even in your frailty and weakness because, touched by His love, you will be able to be renewed.

The encounter with the love of God in the friendship of Christ is possible first of all in the Sacraments, in particular the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In the Holy Mass we celebrate the memorial od the Lord’s sacrifice, His giving himself totally for our salvation: again today He really gives His Body and sheds His Blood to redeem the sins of humanity and make us enter into communion with Him. Jesus receives us with all of our limitations, He bring us the mercy of the Father who forgives us, and transforms our heart, rendering it a new heart, capable of loving Him, who loved His own to the end (cf. John 13:1). And this love is manifested in his mercy. Jesus always forgives us.

Another privileged way to grow in friendship with Christ is the acceptance of his Word. The Lord speaks to us in the depth of our conscience, He speaks to us through Sacred Scripture, He speaks to us in prayer. Learn to stay in silence before Him, to read and meditate the Bible, especially the Gospels, to dialogue with Him every day, to feel His presence of friendship and love. And here I would like to underscore the beauty of a simple contemplative prayer, accessible to all, great and small, educated and not very educated; it is the prayer of the Holy Rosary. In the Rosary we address the Virgin Mary, so that she will lead us to an ever closer union with her Son Jesus to be conformed to Him, to have his sentiments, to act like Him. In the Rosary, in fact, by repeating the “Hail Mary,” we meditate on the Mysteries, the events of the life of Christ to know and love Him ever more. The Rosary is an effective instrument to open ourselves to God, because it helps us to overcome our egoism and to have peace in our hearts, in our families, in society and in the world.

Dear young people, Christ’s love and His friendship are not an illusion – on the Cross Jesus shows us how concrete they are --, they are not reserved for a few. You will find this friendship and will experience all its fruitfulness and beauty if you seek it with sincerity, open yourselves with confidence to Him, and cultivate with commitment your spiritual life by approaching the Sacraments, meditating on Sacred Scripture, praying with constancy, and living intensely in the Christian community. Feel yourselves part of the Church, be committed to evangelization, in union with brothers in the faith and in communion with your Pastors. Do not be afraid to live the faith! Be witnesses of Christ in your daily environments, with simplicity and courage. Be able to show to those you meet, to your contemporaries, above all the face of mercy and love of God, who always forgives, encourages, gives hope. Always be attentive to the other, especially to persons who are poorer and weaker, living and witnessing fraternal love, against every egoism and closure. May your Patron Saint Casimir help you to seek and take Christ without ever tiring. May the maternal presence of Mary be of support to you on this path and my Blessing accompanies you, which I impart to you all, extending it to the whole of Lithuania.

From the Vatican, June 21, 2013

 

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Francis' Words at Consecration of Vatican City State to Archangel Michael
"evil has been vanquished, the accuser is unmasked, his head is crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Blood of Christ"

VATICAN CITY, July 05, 2013 - Here is a translation of the brief address Francis gave this morning at the inauguration of a monument to Michael the Archangel in Vatican City State. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Francis for the ceremony.

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Holiness,

Lord Cardinals, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies!

We have gathered here in the Vatican Gardens to inaugurate a monument to Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of Vatican City State. It is an initiative planned some time ago, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, to whom always go our affection and gratitude and to whom we wish to express our great joy to have him present here in our midst today. My heartfelt thank you!

I am grateful to the Presidency of the Governorate, in particular to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, for his cordial words, to the offices and workmen involved in bringing this about. I also thank Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governorate, for his presentation to us of the works carried out and the results attained. A word of appreciation goes to the sculptor, Mr. Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio, and to the benefactor, Mr. Claudio Chiais, who are present here. Thank you!

There are several artistic works in the Vatican Gardens; however, this one, which is added today, assumes a place of particular importance, be it for its location, be it for the meaning it expresses. In fact, it’s not only a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflection and prayer, which is well inserted in the Year of Faith. Michael – which means: “Who is like unto God?” – is the champion of God’s primacy, of His transcendence and power. Michael fights to re-establish divine justice; he defends the People of God from its enemies and above all of the enemy par excellence, the devil. And Saint Michael triumphs because it is God who acts in him. This sculpture, then, reminds us that evil has been vanquished, the accuser is unmasked, his head is crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Blood of Christ. Even if the devil always tries to scratch the Archangel’s face and man’s face, God is stronger; the victory is His and His salvation is offered to every man. We are not alone in life’s journey and trials; we are accompanied and sustained by the Angels of God who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us surmount so many dangers, to be able to fly high in regard to those realities that can weigh down our life or drag us down. On consecrating Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the Evil One and to cast him outside.

Dear brothers and sisters, we consecrate Vatican City State also to Saint Joseph, the custodian of Jesus, the custodian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our life to overcome evil always with good. We ask him to guard us, to take care of us, so that the life of grace will grow every day more in each of us.

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Angelus   On the Joy of Announcing the Gospel

VATICAN CITY, July 07, 2013

Dear brothers and sisters! Hello!

First of all I would like to share with you the joy of having met, yesterday and today, a special group of pilgrims of the Year of Faith. It was made up of seminarians and novices. I ask you to pray for them that the love for Christ grow more and more in their life and they become true missionaries of the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of this Sunday (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) speaks to us precisely of this: the fact that Jesus is not an isolated missionary, he does not wish to carry out his mission alone, but involves his disciples. And today we see that, besides the 12 disciples, he calls another 72, and he sends them to the villages, 2 by 2, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near.

This is so beautiful! Jesus does not want to work alone, he has come to bring God’s love into the world and wants to spread it in communion (“con lo stile della comunione”), in fraternity (“con lo stile della fraternità”). Because of this he immediately forms a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. Immediately he teaches them to be missionaries, to go out.

But, look, the purpose here is not to socialize, to spend time together, no, the purpose is to announce the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! And it is urgent today too! There is no time to lose with small talk, we do need to wait for everyone to agree, we need to go out and announce. The peace of Christ is brought to everyone, and if they do not accept it, we go forward just the same. Healing is brought to the sick because God wants to heal man of every evil. There are so many missionaries that do this! They sow life, health, comfort at the margins of the world. How beautiful this is! They do not live for themselves but to go out and do good! There are so many young people in the piazza today: think about this, ask yourselves: Is Jesus asking me to go out, to leave myself behind and do good? I ask you, young people, you young men and women: Are you brave enough for this, do you have the courage to listen to Jesus’ voice? It is beautiful to missionaries! ... Ah, you’re great! I like this!

These 72 disciples that Jesus sent out ahead of him, who are they? Who do they represent? If the 12 are the Apostles, and so also represent the Bishops, their successors, these 72 may represent the other ordained ministries, priests and deacons; but in a larger sense of the other ministries of the Church, of the catechists, of the lay faithful that work in parish missions, who work with the sick, with those who are disadvantaged and marginalized; but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is near. Everyone must be missionaries, everyone can hear that call of Jesus and go out and announce the Kingdom!

The Gospel says that those 72 came back from their missions filled with joy, because they experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. Jesus confirms it: to these disciples Jesus gives the power to conquer demons. But he adds: “Do not rejoice, however, because the demons submit to you; rejoice instead because your names are written in heaven” (Luke10:20). Do not boast as if we were the protagonists: there is only one protagonist: it is the Lord! The Lord’s grace is the protagonist! He is the only protagonist! And this alone is our joy: to be his disciples, his friends. May Our Lady help us to be good workers for the Gospel.

Dear friends, joy! Do not be afraid to be joyful! Do not be afraid of joy! That joy that the Lord gives us when we let him into our life, let us allow him to enter in our life and invite us to go out of ourselves to the margins of life and announce the Gospel. Do not be afraid of joy. Joy and courage!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

As you know, 2 days ago the encyclical letter on the topic of faith was published with the title “Lumen fidei,” the light of faith. Pope Benedict XVI began this encyclical for the Year of Faith. It follows his encyclicals on charity and hope. I took up this great labor and concluded it. I offer it with joy to the whole People of God: in fact, today we all need to go to the essence of the Christian faith, to study it and bring it to bear on contemporary issues. But I think that this encyclical, at least in some parts, can be useful also to those who seek God and the meaning of life. I place it in the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bear that fruit that the Lord wants.

I offer my cordial greeting to all of you, dear faithful of Rome and pilgrims. I greet in particular the young people of the Diocese of Rome who are preparing to leave for Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Dear young people, I too am preparing! Let us walk together toward this great feast of faith; may Our Lady accompany us and we’ll see each other down there!

I greet the Rosminian Sisters and the Francescane Angeline Sisters, who are conducting their general chapters; and the leaders of the Community of Sant'Egidio who have come from various countries for the course of formation. A wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch! Goodbye!

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Pope's Address to Participants of Cause of Sainthood for Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

VATICAN CITY, July 07, 2013  - Here is the address of the Holy Father to participants of the Closing Session of the diocesan phase of the process of beatification of the Servant of God Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân.

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Venerable Brothers,

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to meet you and I offer you my cordial welcome. I greet with affection Cardinal Peter Turkson, and I thank him for his words. I greet Cardinal Law and I greet all of you, who have come from many parts of the world on the occasion of the closure of the diocesan phase of the cause of the Servant of God Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân.

Dear friends, your joy is also my joy! Thanks be to God!

And I also thank all of those who undertook this service that is for the glory of God and his Kingdom: the postulator of the cause, Dr. Waldery Hilgeman and his collaborators, the diocesan tribunal and the competent office of the vicariate, the Historical Commission, the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace itself, where the memory of Cardinal Van Thuân, witness to hope, is always alive and is more than a memory; it is a spiritual presence that continues to bear his blessing.

In fact, there are many people who can testify to being edified by meeting the Servant of God François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân at different points during his life. Experience demonstrates that his fame for holiness spread precisely through the testimony of many people who met him and carry his meek smile and the greatness of his soul in their heart.

Many knew him too through his simple and profound writings, which display his priestly soul, profoundly united with him who called him to be a minister of his mercy and his love.

Many people have written recounting graces and signs attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God Cardinal Van Thuân. We thank the Lord for this venerable brother, son of the East, who concluded his earthly journey in the service of the Successor of Peter.

We entrust the prosecution of this cause along with all the others that are underway to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. May Our Lady help us to live more and more in our lives the beauty and the joy of communion with Christ.

From my heart I bestow my benediction to you and your loved ones. Thank you.

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Homily at Mass with Seminarians, Novices and those discerning their Vocations

Saint Peter’s Basilica, 7 July 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting you, and today our joy is even greater, because we have gathered for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery, assessment, formation. And it is a very beautiful season, in which foundations are laid for the future. Thank you for coming!

Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. Where does mission originate? The answer is simple: it originates from a call, the Lord’s call, and when he calls people, he does so with a view to sending them out. But how is the one sent out meant to live? What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer.

The first element: the joy of consolation. The prophet Isaiah is addressing a people that has been through a dark period of exile, a very difficult trial. But now the time of consolation has come for Jerusalem; sadness and fear must give way to joy: “Rejoice .. be glad ... rejoice with her in joy,” says the prophet (66:10). It is a great invitation to joy. Why? For what reason? Because the Lord is going to pour out over the Holy City and its inhabitants a “torrent” of consolation, of maternal tenderness: “You shall be carried upon her hip and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (vv. 12-13). Every Christian, especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others! Isaiah’s invitation must resound in our hearts: “Comfort, comfort my people” (40:1) and it must lead to mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!

The second reference point of mission is the Cross of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Galatians, says: “Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14). And he speaks of the “marks of Jesus”, that is, the wounds of the crucified Lord, as a countersign, as the distinctive mark of his life as an Apostle of the Gospel. In his ministry Paul experienced suffering, weakness and defeat, but also joy and consolation. This is the Paschal mystery of Jesus: the mystery of death and resurrection. And it was precisely by letting himself be conformed to the death of Jesus that Saint Paul became a sharer in his resurrection, in his victory. In the hour of darkness and trial, the dawn of light and salvation is already present and operative. The Paschal mystery is the beating heart of the Church’s mission! And if we remain within this mystery, we are sheltered both from a worldly and triumphalistic view of mission and from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures. The fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – the Cross that is always present with Christ – which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission. And it is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a “new creation” (Gal 6:15).

Finally the third element: prayer. In the Gospel we heard: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). The labourers for the harvest are not chosen through advertising campaigns or appeals for service and generosity, but they are “chosen” and “sent” by God. For this, prayer is important. The Church, as Benedict XVI has often reiterated, is not ours, but God’s; the field to be cultivated is his. The mission, then, is primarily about grace. And if the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength for his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.

Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations: “evangelization is done on one’s knees”, as one of you said to me the other day. Always be men and women of prayer! Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!

Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk 10:4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.

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Pope Francis Address to Seminarians and Novices

VATICAN CITY, July 09, 2013 - Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the participants of the meeting on Saturday with seminarians, novices and young people on their vocation path who took part in the Year of Faith pilgrimage entitled “I Trust in You”.

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Good evening!

I asked Archbishop Fisichella if you understood Italian and he told me that you all have the translation. I am somewhat calmed.

I thank Archbishop Fisichella for his words and I also thank him for his work: he has worked so much not only to do this but for all that he has done and will do in the Year of Faith. Thank you so much! However, Archbishop Fisichella said a word, and I don’t know if it’s true, but I take it up: he said that all of you wished to give your life forever to Christ! Now you applaud, celebrate, because it is the time of nuptials … However, when the honeymoon is over, what happens? I heard a seminarian, a good seminarian who said he wanted to serve Christ, but for ten years, and then he would think of starting another life … This is dangerous! However provisional, but this is dangerous because one does not gamble one’s life once and for all. I marry as long as love lasts; I will be a nun but for a “short time,” for “some time,” and then I’ll see; I will be a seminarian to become a priest, but I don’t know how the story will end. This is not right with Jesus! I will not reproach you, I reproach this culture of the provisional, which beats us all, because it doesn’t do us good: because a definitive choice today is very difficult. In my time it was easier, because the culture favored a definitive choice be it for matrimonial life, or the consecrated or priestly life. However, in this age a definitive choice isn’t easy. We are victims of this culture of the provisional. I would like you to think about learning to close the door of our interior cell from inside. Once a priest, a good priest, who didn’t feel he was a good priest because he was humble, felt himself a sinner and prayed much to Our Lady and said this to Our Lady – I will say it in Spanish because it’s a lovely poem: “This afternoon, Lady, the promise is sincere. Just in case, don’t forget to leave the key outside”. But this is said thinking always of love for the Virgin; it is said to Our Lady. However, when one always leaves the key outside, because of what might happen … This is not right. We must learn to close the door from inside! And if I’m not sure, I must think, must take time, and when I feel secure in Jesus, I understand, because no one is secure without Jesus! – when I feel secure, I close the door. Have you understood this? What is the culture of the provisional?

When I came in, I saw what I had written. I would like to say a word to you, and that word is joy. Wherever there are consecrated persons, seminarians, women and men religious, young people, there is joy, there is always joy. It’s the joy of freshness; it’s the joy of following Jesus; the joy that the Holy Spirit gives us, not the world’s joy. There is joy. But where is joy born? It is born … However, on Saturday evening I will go home and will dance with my old companions. Is joy born from this, the joy of a seminarian, for instance, yes or no?

Some will say: joy is born from the things one has, and so, the search for the latest model of the smartphone, the fastest scooter, the car that attracts attention … But I tell you, really, I feel badly when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car: but this can’t be! You are thinking this: but, Father, must we now go on bicycles? The bicycle is good! Monsignor Alfred goes on bicycle, he goes with his bicycle. I think a car is necessary, because so much work must be done here and there, but choose a more modest bicycle! And if you like a lovely one, think of how many children die of hunger, think of this alone! Joy is not born, does not come from the things one has! Others say it comes from the most extreme experiences: to feel the thrill of the strongest sensations; youth likes to live on the knife’s edge, it really likes this! Others think it comes from dressing more fashionably, from entertainment in the most fashionable places – but in saying this I’m not saying that nuns go to such places, I say it of young people in general. Others, yet, from success with girls or boys, go perhaps from one to the other. It’s this insecurity of love, which isn’t secure; it’s a “test” of love.” And we could continue … You also are in contact with this reality which you can’t ignore.

We know that all this can extinguish a desire, can create emotions, but in the end it’s a joy that remains superficial, it doesn’t go deep down, it’s not a profound joy: it’s the inebriation of a moment that does not render us truly happy. Joy is not the inebriation of a moment, it’s something else!

True joy doesn’t come from things, from having, no! It’s born from the encounter, from the relation with others. It’s born from feeling accepted, understood, loved and from this acceptance, this understanding and this love, and not because it’s of interest for the moment, but because the other, the other is a person. Joy is born from the gratuitousness of an encounter! And from hearing it said: “You are important to me,” not necessarily in words. This is beautiful … And it is this, in fact, that God makes us understand. In calling us God says to us: “You are important to me, I love you, I count on you.” Jesus says this to each one of us! Joy is born from here, the joy of the moment in which Jesus looked at me. To understand and to feel this is the secret of our joy. To feel loved by God, to feel that for Him we are not numbers, but persons; and to feel that it is He who calls us. To become priests, Religious is not primarily our choice. I don’t trust tet seminarian, the novice who says: “I have chosen this path.” I don’t like this. It’s not right! But it is the response to a call and to a call of love. I hear something within me, which makes me restless, and I answer yes. The Lord makes us feel this love in prayer, but also through so many signs that we can read in our life, so many persons that He puts on our path. And the joy of the encounter with Him and of His call leads not to closing ourselves but to opening ourselves; it leads to service in the Church. Saint Thomas said “bonus est diffusivum sui” – it’s not too difficult Latin! – Good diffuses itself. And joy also diffuses itself. Don’t be afraid to show the joy of having answered the Lord’s call, of the choice to love and witness His Gospel in the service of the Church. And joy, real joy, is contagious; it infects … it makes us go forward. Instead, when one comes across a seminarian who is too serious, too sad, or a similar novice, one thinks: but something is wrong! The joy of the Lord is lacking, the joy that leads one to service, the joy of the encounter with Jesus, which leads one to the encounter with others to proclaim Jesus. This is lacking! There’s no holiness in sadness, there isn’t! Saint Teresa – there are so many Spaniards who know her well – said: “A sad Saint is a sorry Saint!” It’s not much … When one comes across a seminarian, a priest, a nun, a novice, with a long, sad face, who seems as though a very wet covering has been thrown over his/her life, a heavy covering that pulls them down … something is wrong! But please, let us never have nuns, never have priests with the face of a “pepper in vinegar,” never! But with the joy that comes from Jesus. Think of this: when joy is lacking in a priest – I say a priest, but a seminarian also -- when joy is lacking in a nun, when she is sad, you can think: “But it’s a psychiatric problem.” No, it’s true that it could be, it could be, certainly. It happens that some little ones get sick. It can happen, but in general it isn’t a psychiatric problem. Is it a problem of dissatisfaction? Well, yes. But what’s at the bottom of that lack of joy? It’s a problem of celibacy. I shall explain. You, seminarians, nuns, consecrated your love to Jesus, a great love. Your heart is for Jesus, and this leads us to make the vow of chastity, the vow of celibacy. However, the vow of chastity and the vow of celibacy do not end at the moment of the vow; they go on. It’s a journey that matures, which matures towards pastoral paternity, towards pastoral maternity, and when a priest is not the father of his community, when a nun is not the mother of all those with whom she works, they become sad. This is the problem. Given this, I say to you: the root of sadness in pastoral life lies, in fact, in the lack of paternity and maternity that comes from living this consecration badly, which instead should lead us to fruitfulness. We can’t think of priests or nuns who aren’t fruitful: this isn’t Catholic! This isn’t Catholic! This is the beauty of consecration: it is joy, joy …

However, I don’t want to embarrass this holy nun [he turns to an elderly nun in the front row] who was behind the barrier, poor thing, she was in fact suffocated, but she had a happy face. It did me good to look at your face, Sister! Perhaps you have many years of consecrated life, but you have beautiful eyes, you smiled, you didn’t complain about the pressure. When you find examples such as this, many, so many nuns, so many priests who are joyful, it’s because they are fruitful, they give life, life, life. They give this life because they find it in Jesus! In the joy of Jesus! Joy, not sadness, pastoral fruitfulness.

To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel we must be genuine, coherent. And this is another word I wish to say to you: authenticity. Jesus so castigated hypocrites: hypocrites, those who think low;

Those who have – to say it clearly, a double face. It doesn’t cost to speak to young people of authenticity, because young people – all of them – have the desire to be authentic, to be coherent. And it makes all of you ill, when you see in us priests who aren’t authentic and nuns who aren’t authentic!

This is, first of all, a responsibility of adults, of formators. It is up to you, formators here present to give an example of coherence to the younger ones. Do we want coherent young people? Let’s us be coherent! Otherwise, the Lord will say to us what he said of the Pharisees to the people of God: “Do what they say, but not what they do!” Coherence and authenticity!

However, you also, in turn, must seek to follow this way. I always say what Saint Francis of Assisi affirmed: Christ has invited us to proclaim the Gospel also with the word. The phrase goes like this: “Proclaim the Gospel always, and, if necessary, with words.” What does this mean? It means to proclaim the Gospel with the authenticity of life, with the coherence of life. However, in this world in which riches do so much evil, it’s necessary that we priests, that we nuns, that all of us be coherent with our poverty! However, when you find that the first concern of an educational , or parochial or anyinstitution is money, this doesn’t do good. It doesn’t do good! It’s incoherent! We must be coherent, authentic. On this path, we do what Saint Francis said: we preach the Gospel with our example, then with words! But first of all is our life in which others must be able to read the Gospel! Here, too, without fear, with our defects which we try to correct, with our limitations which the Lord knows, but also with our generosity in allowing Him to act in us. With our defects, our limitations and – I add something more – with our sins … I would like to know something: is there someone here in this Room who isn’t a sinner, who has no sins? Let him raise his hand! Let him raise his hand! Nobody. Nobody. From here right down to the end … all! But how do I carry my sin, my sins? I want give you this counsel: be transparent with your confessor, always. Tell him everything; don’t be afraid. “Father, I have sinned!” Think of the Samaritan woman, who to prove, to tell her fellow citizens that she had found the Messiah, said: “He told me everything I’ve done,” and everyone knew this woman’s life. Always tell the truth to your confessor. This transparency will do you good, because it makes one humble, all of us. “But Father, I have continued in this, I’ve done this, I’ve hated” -- no matter what it is. Tell the truth, without concealing, without half words, because you are talking to Jesus in the person of the confessor. And Jesus knows the truth. He alone always forgives you! However, the Lord only wants you to tell him what He already knows. Transparency! It’s sad when one finds a seminarian, a nun who today confesses with this priest to clean the stain; tomorrow goes to another, to another, to another: a pilgrimage to confessors to conceal her truth. Transparency! It’s Jesus who is listening to you. Always have this transparency before Jesus in the confessor! However, this is a grace. Father, I have sinned, I’ve done this, this, this … with all the words. And the Lord embraces you, kisses you! Go, and sin no more! And if you fall once again? I say this from experience. I have found so many consecrated persons who fall into this hypocritical trap of lack of transparency. “I’ve done this,” humbly, as that publican who was at the back of the Temple: “I’ve done this, I’ve done this…” And the Lord covers your mouth: He it is who covers it.” But don’t you do so! Have you understood? From sin itself grace abounds! Open the door to grace, with this transparency!

The saints and the masters of the spiritual life tell us that the daily practice of the examination of conscience is very useful, even indispensable, to help us grow in authenticity in our life. What is happening in my soul? Thus, we must be open with the Lord and then with our confessor, with our spiritual Father. This is so important!

Until what time, Archbishop Fisichella, have we time?

[Archbishop Fisichella: If you speak like this, we will be here until tomorrow, absolutely].

You say until tomorrow. Let’s bring a sandwich and a Coca Cola for each one if it’s until tomorrow, at least ….

For our witness to be credible, coherence is essential. But it’s not enough. We also need cultural preparation, I stress cultural preparation, to give the reason for our faith and our hope. The context in which we live calls constantly for this “giving reason,” and it’s something good, because it helps us to take nothing for granted. Today we can take nothing for granted! This civilization, this culture … we can’t. However, it’s also certainly timely; it requires good, balanced formation that unites all the dimensions of life, the human, the spiritual, the intellectual dimension with the pastoral. There are four fundamental pillars in your formation: spiritual formation, that is, the spiritual life; the intellectual life, studying to “give reason”; the apostolic life, to begin to go out to proclaim the Gospel; and fourth, community life. Four. And for the latter it’s necessary that the formation be in community in the novitiate, in the priory, in the seminaries … I always think this: the worst seminary is better than no seminary! Why? Because community life is necessary. Remember the four pillars: spiritual life, intellectual life, apostolic life, and communal life. These four, you should build your vocation on these four.

And here I would like to stress the importance, in community life, of the relations of friendship and fraternity that are an integral part of this formation. Here we arrive at another problem. Why do I talk about relations of friendship and fraternity? So many times I’ve found communities, seminarians, Religious or diocesan communities where the most common short prayer is gossip! It’s terrible! They “skin” one another … And this is our clerical, religious world …Excuse me, but it’s common: jealousy, envy, to speak badly of another. Not just speaking badly of superiors, this is classic! But I tell you that this is so common, so common. I have also fallen into this. I’ve done it so many times, so many times! And I’m ashamed! I’m ashamed of this! It’s not right to do so: to go and gossip. “Have you heard … Have you heard …” But such a community is a hell! This does no good. And because of this, the relation of friendship and of fraternity is important. Friends are few. The Bible says this: friends, one, two … But fraternity among all. If I have something against a sister or a brother, I say it to her/his face, or I say it to her or him who can help, but I don’t say it to others to “soil” him/her. And gossip is terrible! Behind gossip, under gossip, there are envies, jealousies, ambitions. Think of this. Once after spiritual exercises I heard a person – a consecrated person, a nun … This is good! This nun had promised the Lord that she would never speak badly again of another. This is a beautiful, a beautiful path to holiness! Not to speak badly of others. “But, Father, there are problems …”: tell them to the superior, to the bishop, who can remedy it. But do not tell it to him who can’t help. Fraternity: this is important! But tell me, would you speak badly of your mother, of your father, of your siblings? Never. And why do you do so in consecrated life, in the seminary, in the presbyterial life? This alone: think of it, think of it … Fraternity! This fraternal love.

However, there are two extremes in this aspect of friendship and fraternity, two extremes: both isolation as well as dissipation. A friendship and a fraternity that will help me not to fall into isolation or dissipation. Cultivate friendships, they are a precious good: however, they must educate you not to shut yourselves in but to go out of yourselves. A priest, a man religious, a woman religious can never be an island, but must always be a person ready for encounter. Friendships the are also enriched by the different charisms of your Religious Families. It’s a great richness. We think of the beautiful friendships of so many Saints.

I think I must make some cuts, because your patience is great!

[Seminarians: “Noooo!”]

I would like to say to you: go out of yourselves to proclaim the Gospel, but to do this you must go out of yourselves to encounter Jesus. There are two ways out: one towards the encounter with Jesus, towards transcendence; the other towards others to proclaim Jesus. These two go together. If you just do one, it’s no good. I think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This nun was good … She wasn’t afraid of anything, she went out on the streets … But this woman was also not afraid to kneel down, for two hours, before the Lord. Don’t be afraid to go out of yourselves in prayer and in pastoral action. Be courageous in praying and in going to proclaim the Gospel.

I would like a more missionary Church, one that is not so tranquil. A beautiful Church that goes forward. Over these days so many men and women missionaries have come to the morning Mass, here at Saint Martha’s, and when they greeted me, they’ve said: “But I’m an elderly nun, I’ve been in the Ciad for forty years, I’ve been here and there …” How beautiful! But have you understood that this nun passed these years like this, because she never ceased to encounter Jesus in prayer. It is necessary to go out of oneself, towards transcendence to Jesus in prayer, towards the transcendence of others in the apostolate, in work. Make your contribution to a Church such as this: faithful to the way that Jesus desires. Don’t learn from us, from us who are no longer very young; don’t learn from us that sport that we, the elderly, often engage in: the sport of lament! Don’t learn from us the cult of the complaining goddess.” She is a goddess that is always lamenting. But be positive, cultivate the spiritual life and at the same time, go out, be able to meet people, especially those most scorned and disadvantaged. Don’t be afraid to go against the current. Be contemplatives and missionaries. Have Our Lady always with you, pray the Rosary, please … Don’t abandon it! Always have Our Lady with you in your home, as the Apostle John had her. May she always accompany you and protect you. And pray also for me, because I am also in need of prayer, because I’m a poor sinner, but we go forward.

Thank you so much and we will see one another tomorrow. And go forward with joy, with coherence, always with the courage to tell the truth, the courage to go out of oneself to meet Jesus in prayer and to go out of oneself to meet others and give them the Gospel, with pastoral fruitfulness! Please don’t be “spinsters” and “bachelors.” Go forward!

Now Archbishop Fisichella said that yesterday you recited the Creed, each one in his/her own language. However, we are all brothers, we have the same Father. Now, each one in his/her language, recite the Our Father. Let us recite the Our Father.

[Recitation of the Our Father]

And we also have a Mother. In our own language we say the Hail Mary.

[Recitation of the Hail Mary]

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Pope's Telegram to Victims of Train Derailment in Quebec

VATICAN CITY, July 10, 2013 - Here is the text of the telegram sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, on behalf of Pope Francis to the victims of a train derailment that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada on July 8th, 2013.

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Upon learning of the tragic train derailment at Lac-Mégantic, with its many victims of whom a large number is still unaccounted for, His Holiness Pope Francis unites himself through prayer in the anguish of the grieving families, and he entrusts the victims to the mercy of God, asking Him to welcome them into His light. He expresses his deep sympathy to the injured persons and their families, to the emergency workers, and to all the people around them, asking the Lord to support and comfort them in their hardship. As a token of consolation, the Holy Father sends a special apostolic blessing to all persons touched by this tragedy.


Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State

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Decree of Plenary Indulgence for World Youth Day

VATICAN CITY, July 09, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Decree of Plenary Indulgence on the occasion of the 28th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

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RIO DE JANEIRO

DECREE

The gift of Indulgences is granted on the occasion of the “28th World Youth Day,” which will be held at Rio de Janeiro during the current Year of Faith.

The Holy Father Francis, desiring that young people -- in union with the spiritual ends of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI --, are able to obtain the hoped for fruits of sanctification from the “28th World Youth Day,”-- which will be held from the 22nd to the 29th of the month of July at Rio de Janeiro, and which will have as its theme “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations (cf. Matthew 28:19),” -- during the audience given last June 3 to the undersigned Cardinal Major Penitentiary, manifesting the maternal heart of the Church, of the Treasure of the satisfactions of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, has agreed that young people and all the faithful adequately prepared can benefit from the gift of the Indulgences as follows:

a.- a Plenary Indulgence is granted, obtainable once a day with the usual conditions (Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) and also applicable by way of suffrage to the souls of the deceased faithful, for the faithful who are truly repentant and contrite, who will participate devotedly in the sacred rites and pious exercises which will take place at Rio de Janeiro.

The faithful who are legitimately impeded, will be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence provided that, complying with the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayerful conditions, with the intention of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff, participate spiritually in the sacred functions during the specified days, provided that they follow the same rites and pious exercises while they are taking place, through television and radio or, always with the due devotion, through the new means of social communication;

b.- The Partial Indulgence is granted to the faithful, wherever they are during the said meeting, whenever, at least with a contrite spirit, they raise fervent prayers to God, concluding with the official prayer of the World Youth Day, and devout invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil, under the title of “Our Lady of Conception Aparecida,” as well as to the other Patrons and Intercessors of the same meeting, in order to stimulate young people to reinforce themselves in the Faith and to lead a holy life.

Then, so that the faithful can easily make themselves participants in these heavenly gifts, the priests, legitimately approved for the hearing of sacramental confessions, with a prompt and generous spirit are ready to receive them and propose to the faithful public prayers, for the success of the same “World Youth Day.”

The present Decree has validity for this event, any contrary disposition notwithstanding.

Given at Rome, from the headquarters of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on June 24 in the year of the Lord 2013, on the solemnity of Saint John the Baptist.

Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro

Major Penitentiary

Monsignor Krzysztof Nykiel

Regent

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Pope's Homily at Mass in Lampedusa

VATICAN CITY, July 08, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily during the open-air Mass held in the Italian island of Lampedusa this morning.

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Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. That is how the headlines put it. When I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realized that it happens all too frequently, it has constantly come back to me like a painful thorn in my heart. So I felt that I had to come here today, to pray and to offer a sign of my closeness, but also to challenge our consciences lest this tragedy be repeated. Please, let it not be repeated! First, however, I want to say a word of heartfelt gratitude and encouragement to you, the people of Lampedusa and Linosa, and to the various associations, volunteers and security personnel who continue to attend to the needs of people journeying towards a better future. You are so few, and yet you offer an example of solidarity! Thank you! I also thank Archbishop Francesco Montenegro for all his help, his efforts and his close pastoral care. I offer a cordial greeting to Mayor Giusi Nicolini: thank you so much for what you have done and are doing. I also think with affection of those Muslim immigrants who this evening begin the fast of Ramadan, which I trust will bear abundant spiritual fruit. The Church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families. To all of you: o’scià [Lamepedusian greeting]!

This morning, in the light of God’s word which has just been proclaimed, I wish to offer some thoughts meant to challenge people’s consciences and lead them to reflection and a concrete change of heart.

"Adam, where are you?" This is the first question which God asks man after his sin. "Adam, where are you?" Adam lost his bearings, his place in creation, because he thought he could be powerful, able to control everything, to be God. Harmony was lost; man erred and this error occurs over and over again also in relationships with others. "The other" is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs my life and my comfort. God asks a second question: "Cain, where is your brother?" The illusion of being powerful, of being as great as God, even of being God himself, leads to a whole series of errors, a chain of death, even to the spilling of a brother’s blood!

God’s two questions echo even today, as forcefully as ever! How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another! And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.

"Where is your brother?" His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God! Once again I thank you, the people of Lampedusa, for your solidarity. I recently listened to one of these brothers of ours. Before arriving here, he and the others were at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit the poverty of others, people who live off the misery of others. How much these people have suffered! Some of them never made it here.

"Where is your brother?" Who is responsible for this blood? In Spanish literature we have a comedy of Lope de Vega which tells how the people of the town of Fuente Ovejuna kill their governor because he is a tyrant. They do it in such a way that no one knows who the actual killer is. So when the royal judge asks: "Who killed the governor?", they all reply: "Fuente Ovejuna, sir". Everybody and nobody! Today too, the question has to be asked: Who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters of ours? Nobody! That is our answer: It isn’t me; I don’t have anything to do with it; it must be someone else, but certainly not me. Yet God is asking each of us: "Where is the blood of your brother which cries out to me?" Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves: "poor soul…!", and then go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!

Here we can think of Manzoni’s character – "the Unnamed". The globalization of indifference makes us all "unnamed", responsible, yet nameless and faceless.

"Adam, where are you?" "Where is your brother?" These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: "Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?" Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – "suffering with" others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: "Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more". Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. "Has any one wept?" Today has anyone wept in our world?

Lord, in this liturgy, a penitential liturgy, we beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!

Today too, Lord, we hear you asking: "Adam, where are you?" "Where is the blood of your brother?"

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Pope's Marian Prayer at Lampedusa

ROME, July 08, 2013  - Here is a translation of the Holy Father's prayer to the Blessed Mother at the conclusion of the Mass celebrated in the island of Lampedusa this morning.

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Oh Mary, star of the sea, once again we recourse to thee, to find refuge and sernity, to implore your protection and help.

Mother of God and our Mother, turn your sweet gaze towards those who face the dangers of the sea everyday to guarantee their families the necessary sustenance for life, to protect the respect of creation, to serve peace between peoples.

Protector of migrants and itinerants,assist with maternal care all men, women, and children who are forced to flee their lands in search of a futture and of hope. May their meeting with us and our people not become a source of new and heavier slavery and humiliation.

Mother of mercy, ask forgiveness for us who, blinded by selfishness, concerned by our interests and prisoners of our own fears, have become distracted towards the needs and sufferings of our brothers.

Refuge of sinners, obtain the conversion of heart for those who generate war, hate and poverty, who exploit their brothers and their fragility, who make an undignified commerce of human life.

Model of charity, bless all men and women of good will, who receive and serve those who dock on this land: may the love received and given be a seed of new brotherly ties and the dawn of a world of peace. Amen

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Pope's Address to Vietnamese Delegation of Beatification Cause of Cardinal Van Thuan

VATICAN CITY, July 08, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address to a delegation of officials, family and friends of the Servant of God, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, a Vietnamese cardinal who spent thirteen years in prison in his native land before coming to Rome to head the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The delegation is visiting Rome in the context of the official closure of the diocesan phase of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan's cause for beatification. The Holy Father remembered the Cardinal as a witness to hope whose humility and priestly spirit touched countless lives.

* * *

Venerable Brothers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I'm glad to meet you and give you my cordial welcome. I greet with affection Cardinal Peter Turkson, and thank him for his words. I greet all of you, who have come from many parts of the world on the occasion of the closing of the diocesan phase of the cause of the Servant of God Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.

Dear friends, your joy is my joy! Thanks be to God!

We also thank all those who have engaged in this service which is for the glory of God and His Kingdom: the Procurator of the cause, Dr. Waldery Hilgeman and his co-workers, the Diocesan Tribunal and the competent Office of the Vicariate, the Historical Commission , and the same Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, where the memory of Cardinal Van Thuan, witness to hope, is still alive, and more than a memory is a spiritual presence that continues to bring his blessing.

In effect, there are many people who can attest that they were edified by their encounter with the Servant of God Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, at different moments of his life. Experience shows that his reputation for holiness has spread precisely through the testimony of so many people who met him and [who] preserve in their heart [the memory of] his gentle smile and the greatness of his soul.

Many came to know him through his writings, simple and profound, which reveal his priestly spirit, closely united to the One who had called him to be a minister of His mercy and His love.

So many people have written to tell of graces [received] and signs attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God Cardinal Van Thuan. We thank the Lord for this venerable brother, son of the East, who ended his earthly journey in the service of the Successor of St. Peter.

We entrust the continuation of this cause to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, along with all other [causes] currently in progress. May Our Lady help us to live more and more in our lives the beauty and joy of communion with Christ.

To all of you and to your loved ones I cordially impart my Blessing.

 

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Motu Propio on Jurisdiction of Judicial Authorities of Vatican City State

VATICAN CITY, July 11, 2013 - Here is the Motu Propio issued by Pope Francis today regarding the jurisdiction of judicial authorities of Vatican City State in criminal matters.

* * *

In our times, the common good is increasingly threatened by transnational organized crime, the improper use of the markets and of the economy, as well as by terrorism.

It is therefore necessary for the international community to adopt adequate legal instruments to prevent and counter criminal activities, by promoting international judicial cooperation on criminal matters.

In ratifying numerous international conventions in these areas, and acting also on behalf of Vatican City State, the Holy See has constantly maintained that such agreements are effective means to prevent criminal activities that threaten human dignity, the common good and peace.

With a view to renewing the Apostolic See’s commitment to cooperate to these ends, by means of this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, I establish that:

1. The competent Judicial Authorities of Vatican City State shall also exercise penal jurisdiction over:

a) crimes committed against the security, the fundamental interests or the patrimony of the Holy See;

b) crimes referred to:

- in Vatican City State Law No. VIII, of 11 July 2013, containing Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters;

- in Vatican City State Law No. IX, of 11 July 2013, containing Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code;

when such crimes are committed by the persons referred to in paragraph 3 below, in the exercise of their functions;

c) any other crime whose prosecution is required by an international agreement ratified by the Holy See, if the perpetrator is physically present in the territory of Vatican City State and has not been extradited.

2. The crimes referred to in paragraph 1 are to be judged pursuant to the criminal law in force in Vatican City State at the time of their commission, without prejudice to the general principles of the legal system on the temporal application of criminal laws.

3. For the purposes of Vatican criminal law, the following persons are deemed "public officials":

a) members, officials and personnel of the various organs of the Roman Curia and of the Institutions connected to it.

b) papal legates and diplomatic personnel of the Holy See.

c) those persons who serve as representatives, managers or directors, as well as persons who even de facto manage or exercise control over the entities directly dependent on the Holy See and listed in the registry of canonical juridical persons kept by the Governorate of Vatican City State;

d) any other person holding an administrative or judicial mandate in the Holy See, permanent or temporary, paid or unpaid, irrespective of that person’s seniority.

4. The jurisdiction referred to in paragraph 1 comprises also the administrative liability of juridical persons arising from crimes, as regulated by Vatican City State laws.

5. When the same matters are prosecuted in other States, the provisions in force in Vatican City State on concurrent jurisdiction shall apply.

6. The content of article 23 of Law No. CXIX of 21 November 1987, which approves the Judicial Order of Vatican City State remains in force.

This I decide and establish, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

I establish that this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio will be promulgated by its publication in L’Osservatore Romano, entering into force on 1 September 2013.

Given in Rome, at the Apostolic Palace, on 11 July 2013, the first of my Pontificate.

FRANCISCUS

 

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti's Statement on Motu Propio

VATICAN CITY, July 11, 2013 - Here is the statement released by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, regarding the Holy Father’s recent Motu Propio on the jurisdiction of judicial authorities of Vatican City State.

* * *

The laws approved yesterday by the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State bring about a broad-ranging normative change, necessary for the function that this State, entirely sui generis, is called upon to carry out for the benefit of the Apostolic See. The original and foundational aim of the Vatican, which consists of guaranteeing the freedom of the exercise of the Petrine ministry, indeed requires an institutional structure that, the limited dimensions of the territory notwithstanding, assumes a complexity in some respects similar to that of contemporary States.

Established by the Lateran Pacts of 1929, the State adopted the judicial, civil and penal structures of the Kingdom of Italy in their entirety, in the conviction that this would be sufficient to regulate the legal relationships within a State whose reason for existence lies in the support of the spiritual mission of Peter’s Successor. The original penal system – constituted by the Italian Penal Code on 30 June 1889 and the Italian Penal Code of 27 February 1913, in force from 7 June 1929 – has seen only marginal modifications and even the new law on sources of law (No. 71 of 1 October 2008) confirms the criminal legislation of 1929, while awaiting an overall redefinition of the discipline.

The most recently approved laws, while not constituting a radical reform of the penal system, revise some aspects and complete it in other areas, satisfying a number of requirements. On the one hand, these laws take up and develop the theme of the evolution of the Vatican judicial structure, continuing the action undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to prevent and combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. In this regard, the provisions contained in the 2000 United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, are to be implemented, along with other conventions defining and specifying terrorist activity.

The new laws also introduce other forms of crime indicated in various international conventions already ratified by the Holy See in international contexts and which will now be implemented in domestic law. Among these conventions, the following are worthy of mention: the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2000 Optional Protocols, the 1949 Geneva Conventions on War Crimes, etc. A separate section is dedicated to crimes against humanity, including genocide and other crimes defined by international common law, along the lines of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. From a substantial point of view, finally, further items of note are the revision of crimes against the public administration, in line with the provisions included in the 2003 United Nations Convention Against Corruption, as well as the abolition of the life sentence, to be substituted by a maximum custodial sentence of 30 to 35 years.

While many of the specific criminal offences included in these laws are undeniably new, it would however be incorrect to assume that the forms of conduct thereby sanctioned were previously licit. These were indeed punished, but as broader, more generic forms of criminal activity. The introduction of the new regulations is useful to define the specific cases with greater certainty and precision and to thus satisfy the international parameters, calibrating the sanctions to the specific gravity of the case.

Some of the new categories of criminal activity introduced (for instance, crimes against the security of air or maritime navigation or against the security of airports or fixed platforms) may appear excessive considering the geographic characteristics of Vatican City State. However, such regulations have on the one hand the function of ensuring respect for international anti-terrorism parameters, and on the other, they are necessary to ensure compatibility with the condition of so-called "dual criminality", to enable the extradition of persons charged or convicted of crimes committed abroad should they seek refuge in Vatican City State.

Special emphasis is given to the discipline of "civil responsibility of juridical persons derived from a criminal violation" (arts. 46-51 of the law containing complementary regulations on criminal matters), introducing sanctions for juridical persons involved in criminal activities as defined by the current international legal framework. To this end an attempt has been made to reconcile the traditionally cautious approach observable also in the canonical order, according to which "societas puniri non potest" with the need, ever more evident in the international context, to establish adequate and deterrent penalties also against juridical persons who profit from crime. The solution adopted was therefore that of establishing administrative responsibility of juridical persons, obviously when it is possible to demonstrate that a crime was committed in the interests of or to the advantage of that same juridical person.

Significant modifications are introduced also in terms of procedure. These include: updates in the discipline of requisition, strengthened by measures regarding the preventative freezing of assets; an explicit statement of the principles of fair trial within a reasonable time limit and with the presumption of innocence; the reformulation of regulations regarding international judicial cooperation with the adoption of the measures established by the most recent international conventions.

From a technical and regulatory point of view, the plurality of sources available to experts was organised by means of their combination in a harmonious and coherent body of legislation which, in the frameworks of the Church’s magisterium and the juridical-canonical tradition, the principal source of Vatican law (Art. 1, Para. 1, Law No. 71 on the sources of law, 1 October 2008) takes into account simultaneously the norms established by international conventions and the Italian juridical tradition, reference to which has always been made by the Vatican legal order.

In order to better order a legislative work with such broad-ranging content, it has been drafted as two distinct laws. One brings together all the legislation consisting of modifications to the penal code and the code of criminal procedure; the other will instead consist of legislation of a nature which does not permit a homogeneous section within the code structure and is therefore gathered in form of a latereor complementary penal code.

Finally, the penal reform hitherto presented is completed with the adoption by the Holy Father Francis of a specific

Motu proprio, also bearing yesterday’s date, which extends the reach of the legislation contained in these criminal laws to the members, officials and employees of the various bodies of the Roman Curia, connected Institutions, bodies subordinate to the Holy See and canonical juridical persons, as well as pontifical legates and diplomatic staff of the Holy See. This extension has the aim of making the crimes included in these laws indictable by the judicial organs of Vatican City State even when committed outside the borders of the state.

Among the laws adopted yesterday by the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State there is also the law consisting of general legislation on the subject of administrative sanctions. This law had already been proposed in Art. 7, Paragraph 4 of Law 71 on the sources of law of 1 October 2008, and establishes the general principles and regulation of the application of administrative sanctions.

For some time there has long been an awareness of the expedience of an intermediate tertium genus between penal and civil offences, also in relation to the growing relevance of administrative offences. As a discipline of principle, the provisions of such a law would be used whenever another law establishes the imposition of administrative penalties for a breach of law, no doubt to specify the procedure for their application to the competent authority and the order of other minor effects.

One of the cornerstones of the system introduced by this law is constituted by the so-called rule of law, as a result of which administrative sanctions may be imposed only in cases defined by law. The procedure for implementation is divided into a phase of investigation and challenge of the infringement by the competent offices, and a second phase of imposition of the sanction, which will fall within the competences of the President of the Governorate. Finally, there will be the right to appeal heard by a single judge except in more cases of more severe penalties, for which the jurisdiction of the Court is established.

To conclude this brief presentation, it may be observed that the laws indicated above are notable not only for their undeniable substantial and systematic relevance, but also because they represent a further significant step on the part of the Vatican legislator towards the refinement of its legal code, necessary to assume and promote the constructive and useful proposals of the international Community with a view to more intense international cooperation and a more effective pursuit of the common good.

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On the Good Samaritan

CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY, July 14, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus at the Papal Residence of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today our Sunday gathering for the Angelus is here at Castel Gandolfo. I greet the inhabitants of this beautiful little town! I would like to thank you above all for your prayers, and I thank all of you many pilgrims who have come here for you prayers too.

Today’s Gospel, from chapter 10 of Luke, is the famous parable of the good Samaritan. Who was this man? He was anyone, coming down from Jerusalem to Jericho on the road through the Judean desert. On that road a man has just been assailed by brigands, robbed, beaten and left half-dead. Before the Samaritan there pass by a priest and a Levite, two people who are in charge of worship in the Lord’s Temple. They see that poor man but keep going and do not stop. The Samaritan, when he saw the man, instead “had compassion for him” (Luke 10:33) the Gospel says. He came to him, treated his wounds, pouring oil and wine upon them; then he put him on his animal, took him to a hotel and paid for his room... In short, he took care of him: it is the example of love of neighbor. But why does Jesus choose a Samaritan as the protagonist of the parable? Because the Samaritans were despised by the Jews on account of different religious traditions; and yet Jesus shows that the heart of that Samaritan is good and generous and that – unlike the priest and the Levite – he puts into practice the will of God, who desires mercy more than sacrifices (cf. Mark 12:33). God always wants mercy for everyone and not condemnation. He wants the mercy of the heart because he is merciful and well understands our suffering, our difficulties and even our sins. He gives to all of us this merciful heart! The Samaritan does just this: he simply imitates the mercy of God, mercy toward those in need.

A man who fully lived this Gospel of the good Samaritan is the saint whom we remember today: St. Camillus de Lellis, founder of the Ministers to the Sick, patron of the sick and healthcare workers. St. Camillus died on July 14, 1614: precisely today begins the 4th century since his death, which will culminate in one year. I greet with affection all the sons and spiritual daughters of St. Camillus, who live his charism of charity and daily contact with the sick. You are like good Samaritans! I pray that doctors, the infirm and those who work in hospitals and care centers will be animated by the same spirit. Let us entrust this intention to Mary Most Holy.

And there is another intention that I would like to entrust to Our Lady together with all of you. World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro is coming up soon. There are many young people here according to age, but all of you are young at heart! I will leave in 8 days, but many young people will leave for Brazil earlier. Let us pray then for this great pilgrimage that is beginning, that Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil, guide the steps of the participants and open their hearts to welcome the message Christ will give them.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following to those who were present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I join in prayer with the prelates and faithful of the Church in Ukraine, gathered in the cathedral of Lutsk for the Holy Mass of suffrage on the occasion of the 70 anniversary of the massacres at Volhynia. Such actions, provoked by nationalist ideology in the tragic context of World War 2, caused tens of thousands of victims and wounded the fraternity of the 2 peoples, the Polish and the Ukrainian. I entrust to the mercy of God the souls of the victims and, for their people, I ask the grace of profound reconciliation and of a peaceful future in hope and in sincere collaboration for the common upbuilding of the Kingdom of God.

I think also of the pastors and the faithful who are participating in the pilgrimage of the family of Radio Maria to Jasna Góra, Częstochowa, Poland. I entrust you to the protection of the Mother of God and I bless you from my heart.

I greet with affection the faithful of the Diocese of Albano! I invoke the protection of their patron St. Bonaventure, whose feast the Church will celebrate tomorrow. May it be a beautiful feast and many best wishes! I greet all of the pilgrims who are present here: the parish groups, the families, the young people, especially those from Ireland; the group of young deaf people, who are holding an international meeting in Rome.

I greet the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, whom I wish a fruitful spiritual renewal; the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with families of different nations; the Daughters of Divine Charity, holding their general chapter; the superiors of the Daughters of Mary the Helper. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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Pope Francis' Address to Employees of Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo

CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY, July 14, 2013  - Dear brothers and sisters,

First of all I would like to thank the bishop of Albano, the mayor of Castel Gandolfo and the director of the Pontifical Residence for their cordial welcome, which interprets the sentiments of all of you and all the citizens. I thank each and every one of you for this welcome!

I have come here for the day to meet with the citizens of Castel Gandolfo, with the pilgrims and all of the visitors, who rightly love this place, they are enchanted by its beauty, they find occasion for rest here... But I have also come to express to you, who work in the Pontifical Residence, my gratitude for your precious work. And with you I greet and thank your families, which in some way participate in your service to the Holy See. May the Lord assist you always, assist your work and your family life; may he fill you with his grace and accompany you in his paternal love.

The presence of the bishop of Albano, Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, offers me the opportunity to covey and affectionate thought to the parish community of Castel Gandolfo; and also to the religious communities that live in this area. I think of the whole Diocese of Albano, and I exhort its members to the renew with joy their commitment to the proclamation and witness of the Gospel.

I address a sincere thanks to you, Mrs. Milvia Monachesi, mayor of this city, and the entire municipal administration, for work on behalf of the community. I ask you to convey my cordial greeting and the assurance of a remembrance in my prayers to the entire population, whom I encourage to be a sign of hope and peace, always attentive to persons and to families who are most in difficulty. This is important! We must always be a sign of hope and peace in this moment. Open the doors to hope, so that hope goes forward, and spread peace, always!

In this moment my thoughts turn to Bl. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who loved to spend the summer here in this pontifical residence. Many of you were able to meet them and welcome them, treasuring a dear memory. May their witness always be an encouragement to you in fidelity to Christ and in the continual effort to conduct a life consistent with the demands of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary – whom we will honor as Virgin of Mount Carmel in two days – that you might be able to carry out your duties in a profitable and serene manner. May Our Lady always watch over you and your families! Pray for me too – I need it – and for my service. I renew to all of you and I bless you from my heart. Thank you!

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Francis Responds to 3-Year-Old's Letter
Sends His Blessing to Her Daycare

By Staff

VATICAN CITY, July 16, 2013  - A three-year-old girl, helped by her grandmother, decided to write a letter to Pope Francis. During her family’s pilgrimage to Rome, to observe the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s death, the Pontiff was doing his usual rounds greeting the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square, kissing and blessing many children, among whom was Alice Maria Rocca, the sender of the letter. While the Pope was kissing her tenderly on the head, she placed the letter in his hands directly.

Some days later, a happy surprise arrived for Alice’s family. In fact, in their mailbox was an envelope from the Secretariat of State of Vatican City and inside was a letter from Pope Francis, who blessed the little girl and all her dear ones.

“I never thought he would reply. We didn’t expect it, in fact, it was a surprise,” said the girl’s mother. She added, "Among the hundreds of thousands of letters that arrive for the Pope from all over the world every day, the Holy Father replied specifically to us.”

In her note to the Pope, Alice introduced herself and asked for a blessing for herself, her family, and the daycare she attends.

Answering her requests, the letter stated: “The Holy Father thanks you for your kind thoughts and invokes upon you the heavenly intercession of Blessed John XXIII, so that you can grow up happy and serene in friendship with Jesus and, while asking you to pray for him, imparts from his heart to you, to your parents and to your grandmother the Apostolic Blessing, gladly extending it to your dear ones, with a particular thought for your friends and teachers at the daycare.”

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Pope's Message to Catholics in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales

VATICAN CITY, July 17, 2013 - Here is the text of the Message sent by Pope Francis to Catholics in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales on the occasion of the Day for Life, which will be celebrated on July 28th on Scotland, England and Wales and on October 6th in Ireland.

* * *

Calling to mind the teaching of Saint Irenaeus that the glory of God is seen in a living human being, the Holy Father encourages all of you to let the light of that glory shine so brightly that everyone may come to recognise the inestimable value of all human life. Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect. His Holiness prays that the Day for Life will help to ensure that human life always receives the protection that is its due, so that “everything that breathes may praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Secretary of State

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Pope's Message to Victims of WYD Bus Accident

VATICAN CITY, July 18, 2013  - Here is the message sent by Pope Francis regarding the recent WYD bus accident that claimed the life of one French pilgrim and 5 in critical condition. The message was sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

* * *

Pope Francis, informed of the tragic road accident on the road to Saint Laurent du Maroni involving a bus carrying young people participating in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, wishes to express his heartfelt participation in the mourning of the families of the deceased, and of the group leaders and organisers. The Pope assures them of his prayers and expresses his deepest sympathy with those injured, the rescue workers and all those around them. The Holy Father wishes to impart the comfort of an apostolic blessing on all those touched by this tragedy.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Secretary of State

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On Contemplating the Word of God

VATICAN CITY, July 21, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's words before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The reading of the 10th chapter of the evangelist Luke continues this Sunday too. Today’s passage is the one about Martha and Mary. Who are these 2 women? Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, are relatives and faithful disciples of the Lord, who lived in Bethany. St. Luke described them in this way: Mary, at Jesus’ feet, “listened to his word,” while Martha was busy with a lot serving (cf. Luke 10:39-40). Both offer welcome to the Lord as he is traveling, but in different ways. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening. But Martha lets herself be absorbed by the things that need to be prepared and in so busy that she turns to Jesus saying: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me” (7:40). And Jesus responds rebuking her with sweetness. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (10:41).

What does Jesus wish to say? What is this one thing that we need? Above all it is important to understand that it is not a matter of contrasting 2 attitudes: listening to the Lord’s word, contemplation, and concrete service to our neighbor. They are not 2 opposed attitudes but, on the contrary, they are 2 aspects that are both essential for our Christian life; aspects that must never be separated but lived in profound unity and harmony. So why does Martha receive the rebuke even if it is done with sweetness? Because she took only what she was doing to be essential, she was too absorbed and worried about things to “do.” For a Christian, the works of service and charity are never detached from the principle source of our action: that is, listening to the Word of the Lord, sitting – like Mary – at Jesus’ feet in the attitude of a disciple. And for this reason Mary is rebuked.

In our Christian life too prayer and action are always profoundly united. Prayer that does not lead to concrete action toward a brother who is poor, sick, in need of help, the brother in difficulty, is a sterile and incomplete prayer. But, in the same way, when in ecclesial service we are only concerned with doing, we give greater weight to things, functions, structures, and we forget the centrality of Christ; we do not set aside time for dialogue with him in prayer, we are in risk of serving ourselves and not God present in our needy brother. St. Benedict took up the way of life that he summed up for his monks in 2 words: “ora et labora,” pray and work. It is from contemplation, from a strong relationship of friendship with the Lord that there is borne in us the capacity to live and bear God’s love, his mercy, his tenderness to others. It is also our work with our needy brother, our labor of charity in works of mercy, that brings us to the Lord because we see the Lord in our needy brother and sister.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the Mother of listening and service – who teaches us to meditate on the Word of her Son in our heart – to pray with fidelity, to be always more concretely attentive to the needs of our brothers.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke these words to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]

I greet with affection all the pilgrims present: families, parishes, associations, movements and groups. In particular I greet the faithful from Florence, Foggia and Villa Castelli, and the altar boys from Conselve with their families. I see a banner down there that reads “Buon Viaggio!” (Have a good trip!). Thank you! Thank you! I ask you to accompany me spiritually with prayer on the trip that I will start tomorrow. As you know, I will travel to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for the 28th World Youth Day. There will be many young people down there from every part of the world. And I think that you could call this Youth Week, yes, indeed, Youth Week! The young people will be the protagonists of this week. All of those who come to Rio want to hear Jesus’ voice, to listen to Jesus: “Lord, what should I do with my life? What it the road I should take?” You too – I don’t know if there are young people here in the piazza today! Are there young people? Aha! You young people too who are in the piazza, ask the Lord the same questions: “Lord, what should I do with my life? What it the road I should take?” Let us entrust these questions to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, much loved and venerated in Brazil: those that the young people will ask there and those that you will ask today. And may Our Lady help us in this new stage of pilgrimage. I wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Francis' Message on Anniversary of WWII Bombing of Rome
"Peace is a gift of God, which, also today, must find hearts willing to receive it"

VATICAN CITY, July 22, 2013  - Here is a translation of the message Francis sent July 19, to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1943 bombing of Rome on that date.

* * *

Message to the Cardinal Vicar on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Rome – San Lorenzo (1943)

To the Lord Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome

I am spiritually united to you, to the community of Capuchin Friars and to all those gathered in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside-the-Walls to remember the violent bombardment of July 19, 1943, which inflicted very grave damages to the sacred building and to the whole district, as well as to other areas of the city, sowing death and destruction. Seventy years later, the commemoration of that particularly tragic event is an occasion of prayer for all those who died and of renewed reflection on the tremendous scourge of war, as well as expression of gratitude to him who was a solicitous and provident father.

I am referring to the Venerable Pius XII, who, in those terrible hours, was close to his fellow citizens so harshly stricken. Pope Pacelli did not hesitate to run immediately and without escort, through the still smoking ruins of the district of San Lorenzo, to succor and console the dismayed population. He showed himself also on that occasion a solicitous Pastor who is in the midst of his flock, especially in the hour of trial, ready to share the sufferings of his people. With you, I would like to remember all those that, in such a tragic moment, collaborated by offering moral and material help, in alleviating the wounds of the body and the soul and in giving assistance to the homeless. Among others, I wish to mention Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, future Paul VI, then Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who accompanied Pius XII on his visit to the district just devastated by the bombs.

Pope Pacelli’s gesture is the sign of the incessant work of the Holy See and of the Church in her various articulations, parishes, religious institutes, boarding schools, to give relief to the population. So many Bishops, priests, men and women religious of Rome and in the whole of Italy were like the Good Samaritan of the Gospel parable, bending over a brother in pain, to help him and give him consolation and hope. It was a contest of charity that extended to every human being in danger and in need of hospitality and support. May the memory of the bombardment of that tragic day echo in each one again the words of Pope Pius XII: “Nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war.” (Radio Message, August 24, 1939). Peace is a gift of God, which, also today, must find hearts willing to receive it and to work to be builders of reconciliation and peace. I entrust all the inhabitants of the district of San Lorenzo, especially the elderly, the sick, people who are alone and in difficulty, to the maternal intercession of Mary Salus Populi Romani. May she, the Virgin of tenderness and consolation, reinforce faith, hope and charity to radiate in the world the love and mercy of God. With such sentiments I assure you of my prayer and I impart from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, July 19, 2013

Francis

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Pope Francis' Condolence Telegram for Death of Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta

VATICAN CITY, July 22, 2013  - Here is the telegram sent by Pope Francis expressing his condolences for Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta, Archbishop emeritus of Bombay, who passed away on Friday. The telegram was sent to the current Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

* * *

To My Venerable Brother

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay

Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta, Archbishop Emeritus of Bombay, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Pimenta’s long years of devoted service to the Catholic community there and his many years of faithful assistance to the successor of Peter as a member of the College of Cardinals, I join you in praying that God our Merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labours and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of the Heavenly Kingdom. To Cardinal Pimenta’s relatives and all assembled for the Solemn Requiem Mass I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Pope's Telegram to President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy

ROME, July 22, 2013  - Here is the translation of the telegram sent by Pope Francis to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, prior to embarking on his first Apostolic visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

* * *

To His Excellency

The Honorable Giorgio Napolitano

President of the Italian Republic

Palazzo del Quirinale

00187 Rome

At the moment in which I set about to leave for Brazil, on the occasion of the World Youth Day, to meet with young people from all over the world and to encourage them to be witnesses of hope and architects of peace, I am pleased to address to you, Mr. President, and to all Italians my cordial greetings which I accompany with the most fervent wishes for serenity and confidence in the future.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Pope's Address to Journalists Aboard the Papal Flight to Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 23, 2013  - Yesterday morning, in the course of his plane trip to Brazil, on the occasion of the WYD of Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Father Francis met with the journalists aboard the Papal Flight.

The following is a translation of the transcript of the Pope’s conversation with journalists on board the plane, introduced by the Director of the Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi:

Text of the meeting

Father Lombardi: Holy Father Francis, welcome amid this flying community of journalists, and communications agency employees. We are very moved to be accompanying you on your first intercontinental, international trip after having already followed you to Lampedusa with great emotion! Among other things, it is the first trip in your continent, at the ‘end of the world’. It is a trip with young people. Hence, there is great interest. As you can see we have taken up all the available seats for journalists on this flight. We are more than 70 persons, and this group is made up with criteria of great variety, that is, there are representatives of the televisions stations – be it reporters, be it cameramen – there are representatives of the written press, of the press agencies, of radio, operators of the Internet. Hence, practically all the media is represented in a qualified way. And there are also representatives of culture and different languages. We have, on this flight, a good group of Italians, then, of course, there are Brazilians who have come also from Brazil to fly together with you: there are ten Brazilians who came precisely for this. Then there are ten from the United States of America, nine from France, six from Spain; then there are English, Mexicans, Germans; also representatives from Japan, Argentina – of course --, Poland, Portugal and Russia. Hence it is a very varied community. Many of those present often follow the Pope’s trips abroad, therefore it isn’t their first experience, in fact, some have traveled a lot, they know these trips much better than you. For others, instead, it’s the first time because, for instance, the Brazilians follow this trip specifically. So we thought of welcoming you in this group, also with the voice of one of us, or better one of us, who was chosen – I believe without particular problems of concurrence – because she is certainly the person who has made more trips abroad with the Holy Father: and competes with doctor Gasbarri also for the number of trips made. Then, she is a person – among other things – who is a woman; hence it is right that we let her speak. I now give the floor immediately to Valentina Alazraki, who has been the correspondent of Televisa for many years, and yet is always youthful, as you can see and who, among other things, we are happy to have with us because, a few weeks ago, she fractured a foot and we were afraid she would not be able to come. Instead, it was repaired in time, the plaster cast was removed two-three days ago and she is now on the flight. Therefore, it is she who interprets for you the sentiments of our flying community.

Valentina Alazraki: [in Spanish] Pope Francis, good morning! The only merit I have to have the privilege of welcoming you is the very high number of flight hours. I took part in John Paul II’s first flight to Mexico, my country. Then I was the mascot, now I am the dean: 34 and a half years later! It is because of this that I have the privilege of welcoming you. We know from your friends and collaborators in Argentina that journalists are not exactly “saints of your devotion.” Perhaps you thought that Father Lombardi had taken you to the lions’ enclosure. But the truth is that we are not so ferocious and have great pleasure in being able to be your traveling companions. It would please us if you saw us this way, as traveling companions in this and in so many others to come. Obviously we are journalists and if today, tomorrow and in subsequent days you wish to answer questions we won’t say no, because we are journalists. Having seen that you entrusted this trip to Mary, going to Saint Mary Major, you will go to Aparecida, I thought of giving you a small present, a very small pilgrim Virgin, to accompany you on this pilgrimage and on many others yet to come. By chance, it is the Virgin of Guadalupe, but not because she is Queen of Mexico, but because she is the Patroness of America, so that no Virgin will resent her, not that of Argentina, or Aparecida or any other. I give her to you with so much affection on behalf of all of us and with the hope that she will protect you on this trip and in so many others yet to come.

Father Lombardi: And now we give the floor to the Holy Father, of course, so that he can give us at least some words of introduction to this trip.

Pope Francis: Good morning. Good morning to you all. I have heard some strange things said: “You are not saints of my devotion,” “I’m here among lions …” but not so ferocious, ah? Thank you. Truly I don’t give interviews, but why I don’t know, I can’t, it’s so. For me it’s somewhat of an effort to do so, but I’m grateful for this company. This first trip is in fact to meet young people, but to meet them not isolated from their life. I would like to meet them, in fact, in the social fabric, in society. Because when we isolate young people, we do an injustice: we take away their belonging. Young people have a belonging, a belonging to a family, to a homeland, to a culture, to a faith. They have a belonging and we must not isolate them! But, above all, we must not isolate them from the whole of society! They are – truly – the future of a people: this is true! But not only them: they are the future because they have the strength, they are young, they will go forward. But also the other extreme of life, the elderly, are the future of a people. A people has a future if it goes forwards with the two points: with the young, with strength, because they lead it forward; and with the elderly because they are those who give the wisdom of life. And I often think that we do an injustice to the elderly, we leave them aside as if they had nothing to give us; they have wisdom, the wisdom of life, the wisdom of history, the wisdom of the homeland, the wisdom of the family. And we are in need of this! That is why I say that I am going to meet young people, but in their social fabric, mainly with the elderly. It’s true that the global crisis doesn’t do good things for young people. I read last week the percentage of young people without work. Think about the fact that we run the risk of having a generation that has not had work, and from work comes a person’s dignity of earning his bread. At present, young people are in crisis. We are somewhat used to this culture of discarding: it’s done too often with the elderly! But now also with these many young people without work, to them also comes the culture of discarding. We must cut this habit of discarding! No. we must have a> culture of inclusion, a culture of encounter, make an effort to bring everyone into the society. I thank you so much, beloved, “saints of non-devotion” and “not so ferocious lions!” But thank you so much, thank you so much. And I would like to greet each one of you. Thank you.

Father Lombardi: Many thanks, Holiness, for this very expressive introduction. And now all will come to greet you: they will come by here , so that they can come and each one of them can meet you, introduce himself; each one must say from what headline, from what television, newspaper he comes, So the Pope meets and greets him …

Pope Francis: We have ten hours …

The journalists came one by one to meet the Holy Father.

Father Lombardi: Have you all really finished? Yes? Very good. We really thank Pope Francis from our heart because it was, I believe, for all of us an unforgettable moment and I believe that it’s a great introduction to this trip. I think that you have earned somewhat the heart of these “lions,” so that during the trip they will be your collaborators, namely, understand your message and spread it with great efficacy. Thank you, Holiness.

Pope Francis: I truly thank you and ask you to help me and to collaborate in this trip for the good, for the good, the good of society: the good of young people, and the good of the elderly; all and two together, don’t forget! And I remain somewhat as the prophet Daniel: somewhat sad, because I saw the lions weren’t so ferocious! Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I embrace you all! Thank you

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Pope's Address at Welcoming Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 23, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Welcoming Ceremony upon his arrival at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ceremony was held in the Gardens of the Guarnabara Presidential Palace.

* * *

Madam President,
Distinguished Authorities,
Brethren and Friends!

In his loving providence, God willed that the first international trip of my pontificate should take me back to my beloved Latin America, specifically to Brazil, a country proud of its links to the Apostolic See and of its deep sentiments of faith and friendship that have always kept it united in a special way to the Successor of Peter. I am grateful for this divine benevolence.

I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people, it is necessary to pass through its great heart; so let me knock gently at this door. I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you. I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ! I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all: The peace of Christ be with you!

I cordially greet the President and the distinguished members of her government. I thank her for her warm welcome and for the words by which she expressed the joy of all Brazilians at my presence in their country. I also greet the state governor who is hosting us in the government palace, and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, as well as the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the government of Brazil, the other authorities present and all those who worked hard to make my visit here a reality.

I would like to greet affectionately my brother bishops, to whom falls the serious task of guiding God’s flock in this vast country, as well as their beloved local churches. With this visit, I wish to pursue the pastoral mission proper to the Bishop of Rome of confirming my brothers in their faith in Christ, of encouraging them to give an account of the reasons for the hope which comes from him, and of inspiring them to offer everyone the inexhaustible riches of his love.

As you know, the principal reason for my visit to Brazil goes beyond its borders. I have actually come for World Youth Day. I am here to meet young people coming from all over the world, drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer. They want to find a refuge in his embrace, close to his heart, to listen again to his clear and powerful appeal: “Go and make disciples of all nations”.

These young people are from every continent, they speak many languages, they bring with them different cultures, and yet they also find in Christ the answer to their highest aspirations, held in common, and they can satisfy the hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love which binds them together in spite of differences.

Christ offers them space, knowing that there is no force more powerful than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with him. Christ has confidence in young people and entrusts them with the very future of his mission, “Go and make disciples”. Go beyond the confines of what is humanly possible and create a world of brothers and sisters! And young people have confidence in Christ: they are not afraid to risk for him the only life they have, because they know they will not be disappointed.

As I begin my visit to Brazil, I am well aware that, in addressing young people, I am also speaking to their families, their local and national church communities, the societies they come from, and the men and women upon whom this new generation largely depends.

Here it is common for parents to say, “Our children are the apple of our eyes”. What a beautiful expression of Brazilian wisdom this is, applying to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight! What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question.

Listen! Young people are the window through which the future enters the world. They are the window, and so they present us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone. If we can do all this, we anticipate today the future that enters the world through the window of the young.

As I conclude, I ask everyone to show consideration towards each other and, if possible, the sympathy needed to establish friendly dialogue. The arms of the Pope now spread to embrace all of Brazil in its human, cultural and religious complexity and richness. From the Amazon Basin to the pampas, from the dry regions to the Pantanal, from the villages to the great cities, no one is excluded from the Pope’s affection. In two days’ time, God willing, I will remember all of you before Our Lady of Aparecida, invoking her maternal protection on your homes and families. But for now I give all of you my blessing. Thank you for your welcome!

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Pope's Homily at National Shrine of Our Lady of Conception in Aparecida

APARECIDA, BRAZIL, July 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of the homily given by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated this morning at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Conception in Aparecida.

* * *

My Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What joy I feel as I come to the house of the Mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida! The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry as the Successor of Peter to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America.

There is something that I would like to say first of all. Six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in this Shrine. Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand. I saw how the Bishops – who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission – felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady. That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the Bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary’s maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother’s door and asks: "Show us Jesus". It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.

1. Hopefulness. The second reading of the Mass presents a dramatic scene: a woman – an image of Mary and the Church – is being pursued by a Dragon – the devil – who wants to devour her child. But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child (cf. Rev 12:13a, 15-16a). How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The "dragon", evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith.

2. The second attitude: openness to being surprised by God. Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope – the great hope which faith gives us – knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaíba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother? God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him.

3. The third attitude: living in joy. Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3). Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will "light up" with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said: "the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future" (Inaugural Address, Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Aparecida, 13 May 2007, 3).

Dear friends, we have come to knock at the door of Mary’s house. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to "do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). Yes, dear Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God’s surprises and full of joy. Amen.

[Original text: Portuguese]

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Pope Francis' Address in the Neighborhood of Varginha in the Manguinhos Favela

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Pope's address during his visit to the Neighborhood of Varginha in the Manguinhos Favela.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is wonderful to be here with you! From the start, my wish in planning this visit to Brazil was to be able to visit every district throughout the nation. I would have liked to knock on every door, to say good morning, to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho, to speak as one would to family friends, to listen to each person pouring out his or her heart parents, children, grandparents ... But Brazil is so vast! It is impossible to knock on every door! So I chose to come here, to visit your community, which today stands for every district in Brazil. How wonderful it is to be welcomed with such love, generosity, and joy! One need only look at the way you have decorated the streets of the community; this is a further mark of affection, it comes from your heart, from the heart of all Brazilians in festive mood. Many thanks to each of you for this kind welcome! And I thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta as well as Rangler and Joana for their kind words.

1. From the moment I first set foot on Brazilian soil, right up to this meeting here with you, I have been made to feel welcome. And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration. I say this because when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them some food, a place in our homes, our time not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always add more water to the beans! And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!
And the Brazilian people, particularly the humblest among you, can offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: it is the culture of solidarity that does so, seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters.

I would like to encourage the efforts that Brazilian society is making to integrate all its members, including those who suffer most and are in greatest need, through the fight against hunger and deprivation. No amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself. A society of that kind simply impoverishes itself, it loses something essential. Let us always remember this: only when we are able to share do we become truly rich; everything that is shared is multiplied! The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!

2. I would also like to tell you that the Church, the advocate of justice and defender of the poor in the face of intolerable social and economic inequalities which cry to heaven (Aparecida Document, 395), wishes to offer her support for every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person. Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.

3. I would like to add one final point. Here, as in the whole of Brazil, there are many young people. Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good. To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).

Today, to all of you, especially to the residents of this Community of Varginha, I say: you are not alone, the Church is with you, the Pope is with you. I carry each of you in my heart and I make my own the intentions that you carry deep within you: thanksgiving for joys, pleas for help in times of difficulty, a desire for consolation in times of grief and suffering. I entrust all this to the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, Mother of all the poor of Brazil, and with great affection I impart my blessing.

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Vatican Spokesman: Pope's Visit to Aparecida a "Very Important Moment"
Pontiff Tells Pilgrims He Will Return in 2017 for Aparecida Anniversary

By Junno Arocho Esteves

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013  - In a briefing with journalists at the WYD Media Center in Brazil, Fr. Federico Lombardi director of the Holy See Press Office described the Pope’s visit to the Shrine of Aparecida as a “very important moment”.

While reminding those present that the Holy Father’s predecessors also made similar visits to Marian shrines, Fr. Lombardi said that the visit to Aparecida was a continuation of the Marian devotions of the Popes.

“In Aparecida, for Pope Francis, there is a singular importance for him as well as the Conference of Bishops that were present there,” Fr. Lombardi said. “This pilgrimage was also meant as a consecration of the Pope for World Youth Day.”

Regarding the Mass, the Vatican spokesman stated that over 200,000 faithful were present inside and outside the Basilica. There were also thousands lined up on the streets leading to the Shrine. Also present at the celebration was an ecumenical delegation that included Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox Church representatives.

Fr. Lombardi also recalled the joy felt by many pilgrims after the Holy Father ended his address from the balcony saying, “I will see you again in 2017”.

“As you know, it will be the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Madonna [of Aparecida],” Fr. Lombardi said. “Now, all are hoping that the that the Holy Father will return in 2017 for the anniversary.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father visited the Bom Jesus Seminary where he blessed a statue of St. Frei Calvao who was canonized by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2007. He then had lunch with the seminarians and greeted various groups, including a group of nuns who, Fr. Lombardi noted, were extremely excited to see the Pope and have their picture taken with him. “Towards the end, when the Pope was ending the meeting, he told them, ‘I feel like I am Daniel in the lion’s den,’ Fr. Lombardi recalled.

Pope Francis also met with a group of police officers and other groups that had the opportunity to have their picture taken with him.

“The Pope did not rest at all, he dedicated his whole time in greeting these different groups. This is striking; the energy he has for the total continuity to his commitments,” the Vatican spokesman noted.

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Pope Francis' Address at Sao Francisco De Assis Na Providencia Hospital

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013  - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis during his visit to the São Francisco De Assis Na Providência Hospital, which assists drug addicts and alcoholics and offers free medical care to the poor.

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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Dear Archbishop Tempesta,
brother Bishops,
Distinguished Authorities,
Members of the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Penance,
Doctors, Nurses, and Health Care Workers,
Dear Young People and Family Members,

God has willed that my journey, after the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, should take me to a particular shrine of human suffering the Saint Francis of Assisi Hospital. The conversion of your patron saint is well known: the young Francis abandoned the riches and comfort of the world in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world material things and the possession of them but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others. Less well known, perhaps, is the moment when this understanding took concrete form in his own life. It was when Francis embraced a leper. This brother, suffering and an outcast, was the mediator of light ... for Saint Francis of Assisi (Lumen Fidei, 57), because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ. Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope.

To embrace we all have to learn to embrace the one in need, as Saint Francis did. There are so many situations in Brazil, and throughout the world, that require attention, care and love, like the fight against chemical dependency. Often, instead, it is selfishness that prevails in our society. How many dealers of death there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage. A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America. Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love.

To embrace someone is not enough, however. We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: You can get up, you can stand up. It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to. Dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on our journey: You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensible condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! The Church and so many people are close to you. Look ahead with confidence. Yours is a long and difficult journey, but look ahead, there is a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives (Lumen Fidei, 57). To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!

In the Gospel, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, that speaks of a man assaulted by robbers and left half dead at the side of the road. People pass by him and look at him. But they do not stop, they just continue on their journey, indifferent to him: it is none of their business! Only a Samaritan, a stranger, sees him, stops, lifts him up, takes him by the hand, and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:29-35). Dear friends, I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is no apathy, but love. The Saint Francis Association and the Network for the Treatment of Drug Addiction show how to reach out to those in difficulty because in them we see the face of Christ, because in these persons, the flesh of Christ suffers. Thanks are due to all the medical professionals and their associates who work here. Your service is precious; undertake it always with love. It is a service given to Christ present in our brothers and sisters. As Jesus says to us: As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25:40).

And I wish to repeat to all of you who struggle against drug addiction, and to those family members who share in your difficulties: the Church is not distant from your troubles, but accompanies you with affection. The Lord is near you and he takes you by the hand. Look to him in your most difficult moments and he will give you consolation and hope. And trust in the maternal love of his Mother Mary. This morning, in the Shrine of Aparecida, I entrusted each of you to her heart. Where there is a cross to carry, she, our Mother, is always there with us. I leave you in her hands, while with great affection I bless all of you.

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Pope's Telegram to Victims of Train Accident in Spain

ROME, July 25, 2013  - Here is the translation of the telegram sent by Pope Francis to Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela regarding the tragic train accident that killed 78 people.

* * *

Telegram to MONS. JULIÁN BARRIO BARRIO
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Having been informed of the very serious railway accident that occurred near Santiago de Compostela, that caused many victims and many wounded, I have been deeply distressed and have raised a fervent pray to the Lord for all those who have died and those who are victims of this tragic event.

Filled with deep pain, I ask your Excellency to please let those who have suffered know of my closeness to the their families, my fraternal affection and my personal solidarity, assuring them of suffrages for the deceased and a complete and total recovery for all those who have been so terribly distressed.

On this day when the Church entrusts herself to the intercession of James the Apostle, heavenly patron of Spain and Witness of the Risen Christ, together with my epxressions of encouragement for all the children of this noble land, I cordially impart a special Apostolic blessing that comes from faith and is a bearer of consolation that offers true love.

Francis. PP.

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Angelus    On the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Address given by the Holy Father at the residence of the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro to pray the Angelus prayer for the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Mother of God and the grandparents of Jesus. It is also Grandparents Day in Brazil and around the world.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Friends,

I give thanks to Divine Providence for bringing me here to the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Orani Tempesta and to each of you for your warm welcome, which demonstrates your affection for the Successor of Peter. I would be happy if my visit to this city were to renew, in each one of you, your love for Christ and his Church and your joy in being one with him, belonging to the Church and being committed to offering a living witness to the faith.

The Angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day. It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities: in the morning, at midday, and at sunset. But it is an important prayer. I encourage each of you to recite it, along with the Hail Mary. It reminds us of a luminous event which transformed history: the Incarnation, the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth.

Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, "Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives" (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom.

And now, in this Square, in all the surrounding streets, and in those homes that are experiencing this moment of prayer with us, we feel like one big family, and we turn to Mary, that she may protect our families and make them places of faith and love in which the presence of Jesus her Son is felt.

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Pope's Homily During World Youth Day Prayer Service in Copacabana

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily during a prayer service held during the Welcoming Ceremony of the 28th World Youth Day in Copacabana Beach.

* * *

Dear Friends,

“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).

But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.

“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.

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Pope Francis' Welcoming Address in Copacabana

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the address given by Pope Francis during the welcoming ceremony of the 28th World Youth Day which was held in Copacabana Beach.

* * *

Dear Young Friends,
Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.

This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends. The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith!

I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!


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Pope's Address to Argentinian Youth

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the youth from Argentina gathered in Rio for World Youth Day.

* * *

Thank you, thank you for being here today. Thank you to those who are inside, and many thanks to those who are outside, to the 30,000 I’m told are outside. I greet you from here! You are under the rain. Thank you for the gesture of coming, for having come to the Youth Day.

I asked Doctor Gasbarri, who is the one in charge of things, who organizes the trip, if there was a small place to meet with you, and by midday he had everything arranged. So I want to thank Doctor Gasbarri publicly, for what he has succeeded in doing today.

I would like to say something. What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in in ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out! If they don’t go out, they become NGOs, and the Church can’t be an NGO.

May the Bishops and priests forgive me, if one of them afterwards has a row with you, but it is my advice. Thank you for what you can do. Look, I think that at this moment, this global civilization has gone too far, has gone too far! Because the worship of the god-money is such, that we are witnessing a philosophy and praxis of exclusion of the two poles of life which are the promises of the nations. And of course, because one could think that there might be a sort of hidden euthanasia, namely, that the elderly are not looked after. But there is also a cultural euthanasia: they are not allowed to speak; they are not allowed to act! And <then there is> the exclusion of young people: the percentage that exists of young people without work, unemployed, is very high! And it is a generation that doesn’t have the experience of the dignity earned by work. <In other words>, this civilization has led us to exclude the two extremes that are our future!

So, young people must go out, they must show their worth. Young people must go out to fight for values, to fight for values! And oldsters must open their mouth; the elderly must open their mouth and teach us, transmitting to us the wisdom of the nations. In the Argentine Nation, I ask this from my heart of the elderly: do not shirk your duty to be the cultural reserve of our people, which transmits justice, which transmits history, which transmits values, which transmits the memory of the Nation. And you, please, don’t have it in for the elderly! Let them speak, listen to them, and go forward! But know, know that at this moment you, the young and the old, are condemned to the same destiny: exclusion! Don’t let yourselves be excluded! Is that clear? That’s why I think you have to work.

And faith in Jesus Christ isn’t a joke, it’s something very serious, it’s a scandal. That God came to make Himself one of us is a scandal! And that He died on the Cross is a scandal, the scandal of the Cross. The Cross continues to be a scandal, but the Cross is the only sure way, Jesus is the only sure way, Jesus’ Incarnation!

Please, don’t liquefy faith in Jesus Christ! There is orange milk shake, apple milk shake, banana milkshake, but please, don’t take liquefied faith! The faith is whole, it’s not to be liquefied. It is faith in Jesus. It is faith in the Son of God made man, who loved me and died for me.

So, have a row! Look after the extremes of the Nation which are the elderly and young people! Don’t let yourselves be excluded and don’t let the elderly be excluded; secondly, don’t liquefy faith in Jesus Christ.

The Beatitudes! What do we have to do, Father? Look, read the Beatitudes which will do you good, and if you want to know what practical thing you must do, read Matthew 25, which is the protocol with which we will be judged. With those two things you have the program of action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. You don’t need to read anything else. I ask this of you from the depth of my heart!

Well, I already thank you for this closeness, I’m sorry that you are caged, but I’ll tell you one thing. At times I feel how awful it is to be caged! I tell you this from my heart. O well, I understand you! I would have liked to be closer to you, but I understand that for reasons of order, it’s not possible.

Thank you for coming, thank you for praying for me, I ask this from my heart, I need it! I need your prayers, I need much prayer! Thank you for that!

Well, I will give you my blessing and afterwards we will bless the image of the Virgin and the Cross of Saint Francis, which will go on mission throughout the Republic.

But don’t forget. Have a row! Take care of the two extremes of life, the two extremes of the history of Nations, which are the elderly and the young! And don’t liquefy the faith!

And now we are going to pray to bless the image of the Virgin and then give you my blessing.

We stand for the blessing, but before I want to thank Monsignor Arancedo for what he said, that out of pure rudeness, I didn’t thank him for, so thank you for your words.

--- --- ---

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Lord, you left your Mother in our midst so that she would accompany us.

May she take care of us, protect us on our way, in our heart, in our faith.

May she make us disciples, as she was, and missionaries, as she also was.

May she teach us to go out to the street, may she teach us to come out of ourselves.

We bless this Image, Lord, which is going to go around the country.

May she, with her gentleness, with her peace, point out the way to us.

--- --- ---

Lord, you are a scandal, the scandal of the Cross,

a Cross that is humility, meekness, a Cross that speaks to us of God’s closeness.

We also bless this image of the Cross which will go around the country.

Thank you very much and we will see one another in these days!

May God bless you and pray for me. Don’t forget!

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Francis' Address to Bishops
"More than a formal address, I would like to share some reflections with you"

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Here is a Vatican translation of Pope Francis' address today to the bishops of Brazil.

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Dear Brothers,

How good it is to be here with you, the Bishops of Brazil!

Thank you for coming, and please allow me to speak with you as one among friends. That’s why I prefer to speak to you in Spanish, so as to express better what I carry in my heart. I ask you to forgive me.
We are meeting somewhat apart, in this place prepared by our brother, Archbishop Orani Tempesta, so that we can be alone and speak to one another from the heart, as pastors to whom God has entrusted his flock. On the streets of Rio, young people from all over the world and countless others await us, needing to be reached by the merciful gaze of Christ the Good Shepherd, whom we are called to make present. So let us enjoy this moment of repose, exchange of ideas and authentic fraternity.

Beginning with the President of the Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, I want to embrace each and every one of you, and in a particular way the Emeritus Bishops. More than a formal address, I would like to share some reflections with you.

The first came to mind when I visited the shrine of Aparecida. There, at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception, I prayed for you, your Churches, your priests, men and women religious, seminarians, laity and their families and, in a particular way, the young people and the elderly: these last are the hope of a nation; the young, because they bring strength, idealism and hope for the future; the elderly because they represent the memory, the wisdom of the people.1

1. Aparecida: a key for interpreting the Church’s mission In Aparecida God gave Brazil his own Mother. But in Aparecida God also offered a lesson about himself, about his way of being and acting. A lesson about the humility which is one of God’s essential features, part of God’s DNA. Aparecida offers us a perennial teaching about God and about the Church; a teaching which neither the Church in Brazil nor the nation itself must forget.

At the beginning of the Aparecida event, there were poor fishermen looking for food. So much hunger and so few resources. People always need bread. People always start with their needs, even today.
They have a dilapidated, ill-fitted boat; their nets are old and perhaps torn, insufficient.
First comes the effort, perhaps the weariness, of the catch, yet the results are negligible: a failure, time wasted. For all their work, the nets are empty.

Then, when God wills it, he mysteriously enters the scene. The waters are deep and yet they always conceal the possibility of a revelation of God. He appeared out of the blue, perhaps when he was no longer expected. The patience of those who await him is always tested. And God arrived in a novel fashion, since he can always reinvent himself: as a fragile clay statue, darkened by the waters of the river and aged by the passage of time. God always enters clothed in poverty, littleness.

Then there is the statue itself of the Immaculate Conception. First, the body appeared, then the head, then the head was joined to the body: unity. What had been broken is restored and becomes one. Colonial Brazil had been divided by the shameful wall of slavery. Our Lady of Aparecida appears with a black face, first separated, and then united in the hands of the fishermen.

Here there is an enduring message which God wants to teach us. His own beauty, reflected in his Mother conceived without original sin, emerges from the darkness of the river. In Aparecida, from the beginning, God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided. Walls, chasms, differences which still exist today are destined to disappear. The Church cannot neglect this lesson: she is called to be a means of reconciliation.

The fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the stones of a mosaic, which we encounter, which we see. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait.
Then the fishermen bring the mystery home. Ordinary people always have room to take in the mystery. Perhaps we have reduced our way of speaking about mystery to rational explanations; but for ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart. In the homes of the poor, God always finds a place.
The fishermen “bundle up” the mystery, they clothe the Virgin drawn from the waters as if she were cold and needed to be warmed. God asks for shelter in the warmest part of ourselves: our heart. God himself releases the heat we need, but first he enters like a shrewd beggar. The fishermen wrap the mystery of the Virgin with the lowly mantle of their faith. They call their neighbours to see its rediscovered beauty; they all gather around and relate their troubles in its presence and they entrust their causes to it. In this way they enable God’s plan to be accomplished: first comes one grace, then another; one grace leads to another; one grace prepares for another. God gradually unfolds the mysterious humility of his power.

There is much we can learn from the approach of the fishermen. About a Church which makes room for God’s mystery; a Church which harbours that mystery in such a way that it can entice people, attract them. Only the beauty of God can attract. God’s way is through enticement, allure. God lets himself be brought home. He awakens in us a desire to keep him and his life in our homes, in our hearts. He reawakens in us a desire to call our neighbours in order to make known his beauty. Mission is born precisely from this divine allure, by this amazement born of encounter. We speak about mission, about a missionary Church. I think of those fishermen calling their neighbours to see the mystery of the Virgin. Without the simplicity of their approach, our mission is doomed to failure.

The Church needs constantly to relearn the lesson of Aparecida; she must not lose sight of it. The Church’s nets are weak, perhaps patched; the Church’s barque is not as powerful as the great transatlantic liners which cross the ocean. And yet God wants to be seen precisely through our resources, scanty resources, because he is always the one who acts.

Dear brothers, the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love. To be sure, perseverance, effort, hard work, planning and organization all have their place, but first and foremost we need to realize that the Church’s power does not reside in herself; it is hidden in the deep waters of God, into which she is called to cast her nets.
Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery. Not only does she herself remain outside the door of the mystery, but she proves incapable of approaching those who look to the Church for something which they themselves cannot provide, namely, God himself. At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible “to fish” for God in the deep waters of his Mystery.

A final thought: Aparecida took place at a crossroads. The road which linked Rio, the capital, with Sa~o Paulo, the resourceful province then being born, and Minas Gerais, the mines coveted by the courts of Europe, was a major intersection in colonial Brazil. God appears at the crossroads. The Church in Brazil cannot forget this calling which was present from the moment of her birth: to be a beating heart, to gather and to spread.

2. Appreciation for the path taken by the Church in Brazil The Bishops of Rome have always had a special place in their heart for Brazil and its Church. A marvellous journey has been accomplished. From twelve dioceses during the First Vatican Council, it now numbers 275 circumscriptions. This was not the expansion of an organization or a business enterprise, but rather the dynamism of the Gospel story of the “five loaves and two fish” which, through the bounty of the Father and through tireless labour, bore abundant fruit.

Today I would like to acknowledge your unsparing work as pastors in your local Churches. I think of Bishops in the forests, travelling up and down rivers, in semiarid places, in the Pantanal, in the pampas, in the urban jungles of your sprawling cities. Always love your flock with complete devotion! I also think of all those names and faces which have indelibly marked the journey of the Church in Brazil, making palpable the Lord’s immense bounty towards this Church.2

The Bishops of Rome were never distant; they followed, encouraged and supported this journey. In recent decades, Blessed John XXIII urged the Brazilian Bishops to draw up their first pastoral plan and, from that beginning a genuine pastoral tradition arose in Brazil, one which prevented the Church from drifting and provided it with a sure compass. The Servant of God Paul VI encouraged the reception of the Second Vatican Council not only in fidelity but also in creativity (cf. the CELAM General Assembly in Medellin), and decisively influenced the self-identity of the Church in Brazil through the Synod on evangelization and that basic point of reference which is the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Blessed John Paul II visited Brazil three times, going up and down the country, from north to south, emphasizing the Church’s pastoral mission, communion and participation, preparation for the Great Jubilee and the new evangelization. Benedict XVI chose Aparecida as the site of the Fifth CELAM General Assembly and this left a profound mark on the Church of the whole continent. The Church in Brazil welcomed and creatively applied the Second Vatican Council, and the course it has taken, though needing to overcome some teething problems, has led to a Church gradually more mature, open, generous and missionary.

Today, times have changed. As the Aparecida document nicely put it: ours is not an age of change, but a change of age. So today we urgently need to keep putting the question: what is it that God is asking of us? I would now like to sketch a few ideas by way of a response.

3. The icon of Emmaus as a key for interpreting the present and the future Before all else, we must not yield to the fear once expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman: “... the Christian world is gradually becoming barren and effete, as land which has been worked out and is become sand”.3

We must not yield to disillusionment, discouragement and complaint. We have laboured greatly and, at times, we see what appear to be failures. We feel like those who must tally up a losing season as we consider those who have left us or no longer consider us credible or relevant. Let us read once again, in this light, the story of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-15). The two disciples have left Jerusalem. They are leaving behind the “nakedness” of God. They are scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day (vv. 17-21). Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.4 It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.
Faced with this situation, what are we to do?

We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

A relentless process of globalization, an often uncontrolled process of urbanization, have promised great things. Many people have been captivated by the potential of globalization, which of course does contain positive elements. But many also completely overlook its darker side: the loss of a sense of life’s meaning, personal dissolution, a loss of the experience of belonging to any “nest” whatsoever, subtle but relentless violence, the inner fragmentation and breakup of families, loneliness and abandonment, divisions, and the inability to love, to forgive, to understand, the inner poison which makes life a hell, the need for affection because of feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness, the failed attempt to find an answer in drugs, alcohol, and sex, which only become further prisons.

Many, too, have sought shortcuts, for the standards set by Mother Church seem to be asking too much. Many people think: “the Church’s idea of man is too lofty for me, the ideal of life which she proposes is beyond my abilities, the goal she sets is unattainable, beyond my reach. Nonetheless – they continue – I cannot live without having at least something, even a poor imitation, of what is too lofty for me, what I cannot afford. With disappointed hearts, they then go off in search of someone who will lead them even further astray.

The great sense of abandonment and solitude, of not even belonging to oneself, which often results from this situation, is too painful to hide. Some kind of release is necessary. There is always the option of complaining: however did we get to this point? But even complaint acts like a boomerang; it comes back and ends up increasing one’s unhappiness. Few people are still capable of hearing the voice of pain; the best we can do is to anaesthetize it.

Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the “night” contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realizes that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture.

I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts? A Church capable of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles... Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?
Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster.
But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere? beauty?

Do we know anything more powerful than the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and people today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness. Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble? Or is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency? Dear brothers, let us recover the calm to be able to walk at the same pace as our pilgrims, keeping alongside them, remaining close to them, enabling them to speak of the disappointments present in their hearts and to let us address them. They want to forget Jerusalem, where they have their sources, but eventually they will experience thirst. We need a Church capable of accompanying them on the road back to Jerusalem! A Church capable of helping them to rediscover the glorious and joyful things that are spoken of Jerusalem, and to understand that she is my Mother, our Mother, and that we are not orphans! We were born in her. Where is our Jerusalem, where were we born? In Baptism, in the first encounter of love, in our calling, in vocation.5

We need a Church capable of restoring citizenship to her many children who are journeying, as it were, in an exodus.

4. Challenges facing the Church in Brazil In the light of what I have said above, I would like to emphasize several challenges facing the beloved Church in Brazil.

Formation as a priority: Bishops, priests, religious, laity

Dear brothers, unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their heart, as was the case with the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:32).

That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity.

What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation.6 Dear brother Bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches.

Collegiality and solidarity in the Episcopal Conference

The Church in Brazil needs more than a national leader; it needs a network of regional “testimonies” which speak the same language and in every place ensure not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.

Communion is a fabric to be woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually “draws together the stitches” to make a more extensive and thick cover. A threadbare cover will not provide warmth.
It is important to remember Aparecida, the method of gathering diversity together. Not so much a diversity of ideas in order to produce a document, but a variety of experiences of God, in order to set a vital process in motion.

The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem, recounting their experience of meeting the risen Christ. There they came to know other manifestations of the Lord and the experiences of their brothers and sisters. The Episcopal Conference is precisely a vital space for enabling such an exchange of testimonies about encounters with the Risen One, in the north, in the south, in the west... There is need, then, for a greater appreciation of local and regional elements. Central bureaucracy is not sufficient; there is also a need for increased collegiality and solidarity. This will be a source of true enrichment for all.7

Permanent state of mission and pastoral conversion

Aparecida spoke about a permanent state of mission8 and of the need for pastoral conversion.9 These are two important results of that Assembly for the entire Church in the area, and the progress made in Brazil on these two points has been significant.

Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance.
Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that “pastoral care” is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. She gives birth, suckles, gives growth, corrects, nourishes and leads by the hand ... So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of “wounded” persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love.

In mission, also on a continental level,10 it is very important to reaffirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society and the Church; young people, who are the face of the Church’s future; women, who play a fundamental role in passing on the faith. Let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community. By losing women, the Church risks becoming sterile.

The task of the Church in society

In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful.
The Church claims the right to serve man in his wholeness, and to speak of what God has revealed about human beings and their fulfilment. The Church wants to make present that spiritual patrimony without which society falls apart and cities are overwhelmed by their own walls, pits, barriers. The Church has the right and the duty to keep alive the flame of human freedom and unity.

Education, health, social harmony are pressing concerns in Brazil. The Church has a word to say on these issues, because any adequate response to these challenges calls for more than merely technical solutions; there has to be an underlying view of man, his freedom, his value, his openness to the transcendent. Dear brother Bishops, do not be afraid to offer this contribution of the Church, which benefits society as a whole.

The Amazon Basin as a litmus test for Church and society in Brazil

There is one final point on which I would like to dwell, which I consider relevant for the present and future journey not only of the Brazilian Church but of the whole society, namely, the Amazon Basin. The Church’s presence in the Amazon Basin is not that of someone with bags packed and ready to leave after having exploited everything possible. The Church has been present in the Amazon Basin from the beginning, in her missionaries and religious congregations, and she is still present and critical to the area’s future. I think of the welcome which the Church in the Amazon Basin is offering even today to Haitian immigrants following the terrible earthquake which shook their country.

I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what Aparecida said about the Amazon Basin,11 its forceful appeal for respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden. In considering the pastoral challenge represented by the Amazon Basin, I have to express my thanks for all that the Church in Brazil is doing: the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon Basin established in 1997 has already proved its effectiveness and many dioceses have responded readily and generously to the appeal for solidarity by sending lay and priestly missionaries. I think Archbishop Jaime Chemelo, a pioneer in this effort, and Cardinal Hummes, the current President of the Commission. But I would add that the Church’s work needs to be further encouraged and launched afresh. There is a need for quality formators, especially professors of theology, for consolidating the results achieved in the area of training a native clergy and providing priests suited to local conditions and committed to consolidating, as it were, the Church’s “Amazonian face”.

Dear brother Bishops, I have attempted to offer you in a fraternal spirit some reflections and approaches for a Church like that of Brazil, which is a great mosaic made up of different pieces, images, forms, problems and challenges, but which for this very reason is an enormous treasure. The Church is never uniformity, but diversities harmonized in unity, and this is true for every ecclesial reality.

May the Virgin of Aparecida be the star which illumines your task and your journey of bringing Christ, as she did, to all the men and women of your immense country. Just as he did for the two lost and disillusioned disciples of Emmaus, he will warm your hearts and give you new and certain hope.
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1 The Aparecida Document stresses how children, young people and the elderly build the future of peoples (cf. No. 447).

2 I recall for example, to cite only a few: Lorscheider, Mendes de Almeida, Sales, Vital, Camara, Macedo... as well as the first Bishop in Brazil, Pero Fernandes Sardinha (1551/1556), killed by hostile local tribes.

3 Letter of 26 January 1833 to his mother, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. III (Oxford, 1979), p. 204.

4 The Aparecida Document provides a synthetic presentation of the deeper reasons behind this phenomenon (cf. No. 225).

5 Cf. also the four points mentioned by Aparecida (No. 226).

6 The Aparecida Document gives great attention to the formation both of the clergy and the laity (cf. Nos, 316- 325; 212).

7 Also for this aspect the Aparecida Document offers important lines of approach (cf. Nos 181-183; 189). HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 10/6

8 Cf. No. 216. 9 Cf. Nos. 365-372. 10 The conclusions of the Aparecida Conference insist on the countenance of a Church which is by her very nature evangelizing, which exists for evangelization, with boldness and freedom, at all levels (cf. Nos. 547-554). 11 Cf. especially Nos. 83-87 and from the standpoint of a unitary pastoral plan, No. 475.

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Pope's Address to Brazilian Leaders

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Hereis the text of Pope Francis' Address to Brazilian Leaders this morning in the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro. The symphony orchestra and chorus have begun the ceremony with beautiful musical selections culminating in the singing of the Rio World Youth Day Hymn as Pope Francis appeared on stage.

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Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank God for the opportunity to meet such a distinguished representation of the political, diplomatic, cultural and religious, academic and business leaders of this immense country of Brazil.
I would like to speak to you in your own beautiful Portuguese language, but in order to express more clearly what I carry in my heart, I prefer to speak in Spanish. Please forgive me!

I greet all of you most heartily and I express to you my gratitude. I thank Archbishop Orani and Mr Walmyr Junior for their kind words of welcome and introduction. In you I see both memory and hope: the memory of your countrys history and identity, and the hope that, in constant openness to the light radiating from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it will continue to develop in full respect for the ethical principles grounded in the transcendent dignity of the person.

In every nation, those in positions of responsibility are called to face the future, as the Brazilian thinker Alceu Amoroso Lima once said, with the calm gaze of one who knows how to see the truth.[ Il nostro tempo, in: La vita soprannaturale e il mondo moderno (Rio de Janeiro, 1956), p. 106.] I would like to consider three aspects of this calm, serene and wise gaze: first, the distinctiveness of your cultural tradition; second, joint responsibility for building the future; and third, constructive dialogue in facing the present moment.

1. It is important, first, to esteem the dynamic and distinctive character of Brazilian culture, with its extraordinary ability to integrate a variety of elements. The common feeling of a people, the foundations of its thought and creativity, the basic principles of its life, the criteria with which it assesses priorities and ways of acting, all rest on an integral vision of the human person.
This vision of man and of life so typical of the Brazilian people has been greatly nourished by the Gospel through the Catholic Church: above all, by faith in Jesus Christ, in the love of God and brotherhood with our neighbour. But the richness of this nourishment must be fully appreciated! It can render fruitful a cultural process that is true to Brazilian identity and capable of building a better future for all. This was the message of our beloved Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural address at the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, in Aparecida.

To promote an integral humanism and the culture of encounter and relationship: this is the Christian way of promoting the common good, the joy of living. Here, faith and reason unite, the religious dimension and the various aspects of human culture art, science, labour, literature... Christianity combines transcendence and incarnation; it brings ever new vitality to thought and life, in contrast to the dissatisfaction and disillusionment which creep into hearts and spread in the streets.

2. A second element which I would like to mention is responsibility for society. This calls for a certain kind of cultural, and hence political, paradigm. We are the ones responsible for training new generations knowledgeable in economic and political affairs, and solidly grounded in ethical values. The future demands of us a humanistic vision of the economy and a politics capable of ensuring greater and more effective participation on the part of all, eliminating forms of elitism and eradicating poverty. This is the road that we are called to travel: to see that basic needs are met and that human dignity, brotherhood and solidarity are guaranteed on every level. In the days of prophet Amos, Gods stern warning was already being heard: They sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals they ... trample down the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and push the afflicted out of the way (Am 2:6-7). The outcry, the call for justice, continues to be heard even today.

Anyone exercising a role of leadership needs to have very practical goals and to seek specific means to attain them. At the same time, there is always the risk of disappointment, resentment and indifference, if our plans and goals do not materialize. The dynamic virtue of hope inspires us to keep pressing on, to employ all our energies and abilities on behalf of those for whom we work, accepting results, making it possible to strike out on new paths, being generous even without apparent results, yet keeping hope alive.

Leadership also means making the most just decision after having considered all the options from the standpoint of personal responsibility and concern for the common good. This is the way to go to the heart of the evils of a society and to overcome them, also with the boldness of courageous and free actions. In exercising our responsibility, with all its limitations, it is important to embrace all of reality, observing, pondering, evaluating, in order to make decisions in the present but with an eye to the future, reflecting on the consequences of our decisions. To act responsibly is to see ones own actions in the light of other peoples rights and Gods judgement. To preserve this ethical sense appears today as an unprecedented historic challenge. Beyond scientific and technical competence, the present situation also demands a sense of moral obligation expressed in a social and deeply fraternal exercise of responsibility.

3. To fill out the gaze which I have proposed, in addition to an integral humanism which respects cultural distinctiveness and fraternal responsibility, I now conclude by pointing to something which I consider essential for facing the present moment: constructive dialogue. Between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue. Dialogue between generations, dialogue with the people, the capacity to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth. A country grows when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic and technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture. It is impossible to imagine a future for society without a significant contribution of moral energies within a democratic order which will always be tempted to remain caught up in the interplay of vested interests. A basic contribution in this regard is made by the great religious traditions, which play a fruitful role as a leaven of society and a life-giving force for democracy. Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favoured by the laicity of the state, which, without appropriating any one confessional stance, respects and esteems the presence of the religious factor in society, while fostering its concrete expressions.

When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice. Only in this way can understanding grow between cultures and religions, mutual esteem without needless preconceptions, respectful of the rights of everyone. Today, either we stand together with the culture of encounter, or we all fall; taking the right road makes the journey fruitful and secure.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for your attention. Please accept these words as an expression of my concern as Pastor of the Church and my love for the Brazilian people. Fraternal relations between people, and cooperation in building a more just society these are not some vague utopia, but the fruit of a concerted effort on the part of all, in service of the common good. I encourage you in your commitment to the common good, a commitment which demands of everyone wisdom, prudence and generosity. I entrust you to our Heavenly Father, asking him, through the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, to pour out his gifts on each of you, on your families and on your communities and workplaces. To all I cordially impart my blessing.

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Pope's Address During Stations of the Cross

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Celebration of the Way of the Cross yesterday at Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Young Friends,

We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you “to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption” (Address to Young People, 22 April 1984). Since then, the World Youth Day Cross has travelled to every continent and through a variety of human situations. It is, as it were, almost “steeped” in the life experiences of the countless young people who have seen it and carried it. Dear brothers and sisters, no one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life. I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?

1. According to an ancient Roman tradition, while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus’ response was: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death, would always be with him. Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, andthose who mourn the tragicloss of their children, as in the case of the 242 young victims of the fire in the City of Santa Maria at the beginning of this year. We pray for them. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world which, on the other hand, permits itself the luxury of throwing awaytons of food everyday; on the Cross, Jesus is united to the many mothers and fathers who suffer as they see their children become victims of drug-induced euphoria; on the Cross, Jesus is unitedwith those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel. How our inconsistencies make Jesus suffer!The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life” (cf. Jn 3:16).

2. Nowwe can answer the second question: What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it and to those who havetouched it? What has the Crossleft in each one of us? You see, itgives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the faithfullove which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we findhis immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16), because he never disappoints anyone!Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life: he has transformed the Cross from beingan instrument of hate, defeat and death to beinga sign of love, victory, triumph and life.

The first name given to Brazil was “The Land of the Holy Cross”. The Cross of Christ was planted five centuries ago not only on the shores of this country, but also in the history, the hearts and the lives of the people of Brazil and elsewhere. The suffering Christ is keenly felt here, as one of us who shares our journey even to the end. There is no cross, big or small, in our life, which the Lord does not share with us.

3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action; the Cross invites us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many times have we seen them in the Way of the Cross,how many times have they accompaniedJesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women… Today I ask you: which of them do you want to be? Do you want tobe like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands?Tell me: are you one of those who wash their hands, who feign ignorance and look the other way? Or are you like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood,orlike Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness.? And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to him?

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love.

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Pope's Homily at Closing Mass of World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013  - Here is the translation of the homily given by Pope Francis at the Closing Mass of the 28th World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

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Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And at this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to theYouth Ministery groups, to the Movements and the new Communities that accompany the young people in their experience of being Church. They are so creative, so audacious. Carry on and do not be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Follow these three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen.

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Pope's Address at Prayer Vigil in Copacabana Beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address at last night's Prayer Vigil at Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Young Friends,

We have just recalled the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my house”. The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord’s call to rebuild his house. But which house? Slowly but surely, Francis came to realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her.

Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. How? In what way? Well, I think we can learn something from what happened in these days: as we had to cancel due to bad weather, the realization of this vigil on the campus Fidei, in Guaratiba. Lord willing might we say that the real area of ​​faith, the true campus fidei, is not a geographical place - but we, ourselves? Yes! Each of us, each one of you. And missionary discipleship means to recognize that we are God’s campus fidei, His “field of faith”! Therefore, from the image of the field of faith, starting with the name of the place, Campus Fidei, the field of faith, I have thought of three images that can help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary. First, a field is a place for sowing seeds; second, a field is a training ground; and third, a field is a construction site.

1. A field is a place for sowing seeds. We all know the parable where Jesus speaks of a sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on good soil and brought forth much fruit (cf. Mt 13:1-9). Jesus himself explains the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts (cf. Mt 13:18-23). This, dear young people, means that the real Campus Fidei, the field of faith, is your own heart, it is your life. It is your life that Jesus wants to enter with his word, with his presence. Please, let Christ and his word enter your life, blossom and grow.

Jesus tells us that the seed which fell on the path or on the rocky ground or among the thorns bore no fruit. What kind of ground are we? What kind of terrain do we want to be? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in us (cf. Mt 13:18-22). But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not “starchy” and superficial, but real. I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives meaningful. Jesus is capable of letting you do this: he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Let’s trust in him. Let’s make him our guide!

2. A field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to “play on his team”. I think that most of you love sports! Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion. Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. Saint Paul tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to train, “to get in shape”, so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith. How do we get in shape? By talking with him: by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always listens to us. By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized. Dear young people, be true “athletes of Christ”!

3. A field is a construction site. When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when “we build up a sweat” in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Saint Peter tells us that we are living stones, which form a spiritual edifice (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). Looking at this platform, we see that it is in the shape of a church, built up with stones and bricks. In the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up his Church, but not as a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone! To me, to you, to each of us he says: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Tonight, let us answer him: Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we want to build up the Church of Jesus! Let us all say together: I want to go forth and build up the Church of Christ!

In your young hearts, you have a desire to build a better world. I have been closely following the news reports of the many young people who throughout the world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more just and fraternal society - (and here in Brazil), they have gone out into the streets to express a desire for a more just and fraternal civilization. These are young people who want to be agents of change. I encourage them, in an orderly, peaceful and responsible manner, motivated by the values of the Gospel, to continue overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to social and political concerns present in their countries. But the question remains: Where do we start? What are the criteria for building a more just society? Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked what needed to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I!

Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!

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Reflections From Francis for the Church in Brazil
Highlights From His Meeting With Bishops

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013  - On Saturday in Rio, Pope Francis met with the bishops of Brazil, telling them that more than a formal address, he wanted to share with them some reflections.

Below are some of the highlights of those reflections:

-- In the context of a consideration of the discovery of Our Lady of Aparecida, the Pope said this: "The fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the stones of a mosaic, which we encounter, which we see. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait."

-- Reflecting on lessons from the disciples of Emmaus, he offered this: "Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.4 It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.
Faced with this situation, what are we to do?

We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning."

-- "I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts? A Church capable of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles... Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?
Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster.
But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere?"

-- Regarding challenges facing the Church in Brazil, he made these comments: "Formation as a priority: Bishops, priests, religious, laity

Dear brothers, unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their heart, as was the case with the disciples of Emmaus"

-- "What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation.6 Dear brother Bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches."

-- "Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance."

-- "Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that 'pastoral care' is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. She gives birth, suckles, gives growth, corrects, nourishes and leads by the hand ... So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of 'wounded' persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love."

-- Regarding the Church in society, Francis said: "In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful."

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On Mary: Our Model and Mother

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Closing Mass of the 28th World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this Mass, in which we have raised up to God our song of praise and thanksgiving for every grace received during this World Youth Day, I would like once more to thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta and Cardinal Ryłko for their kind words. I thank you too, dear young friends, for all the joy you have given me in these days. I carry each one of you in my heart! Now let us turn our gaze to our heavenly Mother, the Virgin Mary.

During these days, Jesus has insistently and repeatedly invited you to be his missionary disciples; you have listened to the voice of the Good Shepherd, calling you by name, and you have recognized the voice calling you (cf. Jn10:4). Could it be that in this voice, resounding in your heart, you have felt the tenderness of God’s love? Have you experienced the beauty of following Christ together with others, in the Church? Have you understood more deeply that the Gospel is the answer to the desire for an even fuller life? (cf. Jn10:10).

The Immaculate Virgin intercedes for us in heaven as a good mother who watches over her children. May Mary teach us by her life what it means to be a missionary disciple. Every time we pray the Angelus, we recall the event that changed the history of mankind for ever. When the Angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary that she would become the Mother of Jesus the Saviour, even without understanding the full significance of thatcall, she trusted God and replied: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk1:38). But what did she do immediately afterwards? On receiving the grace of being the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she did not keep that gift to herself; she set off, she left her home and went in haste to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was in need of assistance (cf. Lk1:38-39); she carried out an act of love, of charity,of practical service, bringing Jesus who was in her womb. And she did all this in haste!

There, my dear friends, we have our model. She who received the most precious gift from God, as her immediate response sets off to be of service and to bring Jesus. Let us ask Our Lady to help us too to give Christ’s joy to our families, our companions, our friends, to everyone. Never be afraid to be generous with Christ. It is worth it! Go out and set off with courage and generosity, so that every man and every woman may meet the Lord.
Dear young friends, we have an appointment for the next World Youth Day in 2016 in Kraków, Poland. Through Our Lady’s maternal intercession, let us ask for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the journey that will lead us to this next stage in our joyful celebration offaith and the love of Christ.

Now let us pray together ...

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Pope Francis Address at Farewell Ceremony

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Farewell Ceremony before leaving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Madam President,
Distinguished National, State and Local Authorities,
Dear Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro,
Dear Cardinals and Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am about to leave your country to return to Rome. I depart with many happy memories which I know will nourish my prayers. Already I am beginning to miss Brazil, this great people showing so much affection and friendship. I shall miss the natural and warm smiles I have seen in so many faces, and the enthusiasm shown by the volunteers. I shall miss the hope filling the eyes of the young people in the Hospital of Saint Francis. I shall miss the faith and joy shown by the residents of Varginha in the midst oftheir hardship. I know that Christ is truly present in the lives of countless young people and in the lives of many whom I have met during this unforgettable week. Thank you for the warm welcome and the friendship that have been offered to me. This too I shall miss.

In particular, I would like to thank Madam President for expressing the sentiments of the entire population of Brazil towards the Successor of Peter. I warmly extend gratitude to my brother Bishops and to their many collaborators for making this week a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ. I thank all those who took part in the eucharistic celebrations and other events, and I thank those who organized them and those who worked to broadcast them through the media. Finally, I wish to thank all those who in one way or another rose to the challenge of hosting and organizing the large numbers of young people. And not least my gratitude goes tothe many people who prayed, often in silence and simplicity, for this World Youth Day to bean authentic experience of growth in faith. May God reward all of you, as only he can!

As I express my thanks and bid farewell, my thoughts turnto those who are at the heart of these celebrations: the young people! May God bless you for the beautiful witness of your lives and for your intense and joyful participation over these last few days. Many of you came here as disciples; I have no doubt that all of you will leave as missionaries. Through your joyful witness and service, help to build a civilization of love. Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents in order to attain high ideals, itis worth recognizing the dignity of each human person, and it is worth taking risks for Christ and his Gospel. It is he that we have come to seek because he first sought us. It is he who has inflamed our hearts with the desire to take the Good News to the large cities and to the small communities, to the countryside and to all thecorners of this vast planet. I will always place my hopes in the young people of Brazil and in the young around the world:through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth. I have seen its first fruits and I know that others will joyfully reap the full harvest.

Finally, my thoughts turn to Our Lady of Aparecida, to whom I also bid farewell. In that beloved Shrine I knelt to pray for the entire human family and in particular for all Brazilians. I implored Mary to strengthen you in the Christian faith, which forms part of the noble soul of Brazil, as indeedof many other countries; thisfaith is your culture's treasure and serves as encouragement and support in the task ofbuilding a renewed humanity in harmony and solidarity. As he departs, the Pope says to all of you affectionately: "see you soon". He asks you not to forget to pray for him. The Pope needs the prayers of all of you. I offer you an affectionate embrace. May God bless you!

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Pope's Address to World Youth Day Volunteers

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013 - Here is Pope Francis' address to the volunteers of the 28th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

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Dear Volunteers, Good evening!

I could not return to Rome without first thanking all of you in a personal and affectionate way for the work and dedication with which you have accompanied, helped, and served the thousands of young pilgrims, and for the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts20:35).

The service you have given during these days brings to mind the mission of Saint John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. Every one of you, each in his or her own way, was a means enabling thousands of young people to "prepare the way" to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples. To prepare the way so that all people may know, meet and love the Lord. To you who in these days responded with such readiness and generosity to the call to be volunteers for World Youth Day, I say: May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.

God calls you to make definitive choices, and he has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. God callseach of us to be holy, to live his life, but he has a particular path for each one of us. Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage. Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of "enjoying" the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, "for ever", because we do not know whattomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that seeseverything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage "to swim against the tide". Have the courage to be happy.

The Lord calls some to be priests, to give themselves to him more fully, so as to love all people with the heart of the Good Shepherd. Some he calls to the service of others in the religious life: devoting themselves in monasteries to praying for the good of the world, and in various areas of the apostolate, giving of themselves for the sake of all, especially those most in need. I will never forget that day, 21 September - I was 17 years old - when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Floresto go to confession, I first heard God calling me. Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying "yes" to God. In him we find joy!

Dear young people, some of you may not yet know what youwill do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, inthe end he answered: Speak, Lord, for I am listening (cf. 1 Sam3:1-10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you wantme to do? What path am I to follow?

Dear friends, I thank you once more for all you have done during these days. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours.

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The Holy Father's address to the Leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America during their General Coordination Meeting ( RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013)

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1. Introduction

I thank the Lord for this opportunity to speak with you, my brother bishops, the leadership of CELAM for the four-year period from 2011 to 2015. For 57 years CELAM has served the 22 Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean, working in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity to promote, encourage and improve collegiality among the bishops and communion between the region’s Churches and their pastors.

Like yourselves, I too witnessed the powerful working of the Spirit in the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate in Aparecida, in May 2007, which continues to inspire the efforts of CELAM for the desired renewal of the Particular Churches. In many of them, this renewal is clearly taking place. I would like to focus this conversation on the legacy of that fraternal encounter, which all of us have chosen to call a Continental Mission.


2. Particular characteristics of Aparecida

There are four hallmarks of the Fifth Conference. They are like four pillars for the implementation of Aparecida, and they are what make it distinctive.

1) Starting without a document

Medellín, Puebla and Santo Domingo began their work with a process of preparation which culminated in a sort of Instrumentum Laboris which then served as a basis for discussion, reflection and the approval of the final document. Aparecida, on the other hand, encouraged the participation of the Particular Churches as a process of preparation culminating in a document of synthesis. This document, while serving as a point of reference throughout the Fifth General Conference, was not taken as a starting point. The initial work consisted in pooling the concerns expressed by the bishops as they considered the new period of history we are living and the need to recover the life of discipleship and mission with which Christ founded the Church.

2) A setting of prayer with the people of God

It is important to remember the prayerful setting created by the daily sharing of the Eucharist and other liturgical moments, in which we were always accompanied by the People of God. On the other hand, since the deliberations took place in the undercroft of the Shrine, the music which accompanied them were the songs and the prayers of the faithful.

3) A document which continues in commitment, with the Continental Mission
This context of prayer and the life of faith gave rise to a desire for a new Pentecost for the Church and the commitment to undertake a Continental Mission. Aparecida did not end with a document; it continues in the Continental Mission.

4) The presence of Our Lady, Mother of America

It was the first conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in a Marian shrine.


3. Dimensions of the Continental Mission

The Continental Mission is planned along two lines: the programmatic and the paradigmatic. The programmatic mission, as its name indicates, consists in a series of missionary activities. The paradigmatic mission, on the other hand, involves setting in a missionary key all the day-to-day activities of the Particular Churches. Clearly this entails a whole process of reforming ecclesial structures. The “change of structures” (from obsolete ones to new ones) will not be the result of reviewing an organizational flow chart, which would lead to a static reorganization; rather it will result from the very dynamics of mission. What makes obsolete structures pass away, what leads to a change of heart in Christians, is precisely missionary spirit. Hence the importance of the paradigmatic mission.

The Continental Mission, both programmatic and paradigmatic, calls for creating a sense of a Church which is organized to serve all the baptized, and men and women of goodwill. Christ’s followers are not individuals caught up in a privatized spirituality, but persons in community, devoting themselves to others. The Continental Mission thus implies membership in the Church.

An approach like this, which begins with missionary discipleship and involves understanding Christian identity as membership in the Church, demands that we clearly articulate the real challenges facing missionary discipleship. Here I will mention only two: the Church’s inner renewal and dialogue with the world around us.

The Church’s inner renewal

Aparecida considered Pastoral Conversion to be a necessity. This conversion involves believing in the Good News, believing in Jesus Christ as the bearer of God’s Kingdom as it breaks into the world and in his victorious presence over evil, believing in the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, believing in the Church, the Body of Christ and the prolonging of the dynamism of the incarnation.

Consequently, we, as pastors, need to ask questions about the actual state of the Churches which we lead. These questions can serve as a guide in examining where the dioceses stand in taking up the spirit of Aparecida; they are questions which we need to keep asking as an examination of conscience.

1. Do we see to it that our work, and that of our priests, is more pastoral than administrative? Who primarily benefits from our efforts, the Church as an organization or the People of God as a whole?

2. Do we fight the temptation simply to react to complex problems as they arise? Are we creating a proactive mindset? Do we promote opportunities and possibilities to manifest God's mercy? Are we conscious of our responsibility for refocusing pastoral approaches and the functioning of Church structures for the benefit of the faithful and society?

3. In practice, do we make the lay faithful sharers in the Mission? Do we offer them the word of God and the sacraments with a clear awareness and conviction that the Holy Spirit makes himself manifest in them?

4. Is pastoral discernment a habitual criterion, through the use of Diocesan Councils? Do such Councils and Parish Councils, whether pastoral or financial, provide real opportunities for lay people to participate in pastoral consultation, organization and planning? The good functioning of these Councils is critical. I believe that on this score, we are far behind.

5. As pastors, bishops and priests, are we conscious and convinced of the mission of the lay faithful and do we give them the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them? Are we constantly open to letting ourselves be challenged in our efforts to advance the good of the Church and her mission in the world?

6. Do pastoral agents and the faithful in general feel part of the Church, do they identify with her and bring her closer to the baptized who are distant and alienated?

As can be appreciated, what is at stake here are attitudes. Pastoral Conversion is chiefly concerned with attitudes and reforming our lives. A change of attitudes is necessarily something ongoing: “it is a process”, and it can only be kept on track with the help of guidance and discernment. It is important always to keep in mind that the compass preventing us from going astray is that of Catholic identity, understood as membership in the Church.

Dialogue with the world around us

We do well to recall the words of the Second Vatican Council: “The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (Gaudium et Spes, 1). Here we find the basis for our dialogue with the contemporary world.

Responding to the existential issues of people today, especially the young, listening to the language they speak, can lead to a fruitful change, which must take place with the help of the Gospel, the magisterium, and the Church’s social doctrine. The scenarios and the areopagi involved are quite varied. For example, a single city can contain various collective imaginations which create “different cities”. If we remain within the parameters of our “traditional culture”, which was essentially rural, we will end up nullifying the power of the Holy Spirit. God is everywhere: we have to know how to find him in order to be able to proclaim him in the language of each and every culture; every reality, every language, has its own rhythm.


4. Some temptations against missionary discipleship

The decision for missionary discipleship will encounter temptation. It is important to know where the evil spirit is afoot in order to aid our discernment. It is not a matter of chasing after demons, but simply one of clear-sightedness and evangelical astuteness. I will mention only a few attitudes which are evidence of a Church which is “tempted”. It has to do with recognizing certain contemporary proposals which can parody the process of missionary discipleship and hold back, even bring to a halt, the process of Pastoral Conversion.

1. Making the Gospel message an ideology. This is a temptation which has been present in the Church from the beginning: the attempt to interpret the Gospel apart from the Gospel itself and apart from the Church. An example: Aparecida, at one particular moment, felt this temptation. It employed, and rightly so, the method of “see, judge and act” (cf. No. 19). The temptation, though, was to opt for a way of “seeing” which was completely “antiseptic”, detached and unengaged, which is impossible. The way we “see” is always affected by the way we direct our gaze. There is no such thing as an “antiseptic” hermeneutics. The question was, rather: How are we going to look at reality in order to see it? Aparecida replied: With the eyes of discipleship. This is the way Nos. 20-32 are to be understood. There are other ways of making the message an ideology, and at present proposals of this sort are appearing in Latin America and the Caribbean. I mention only a few:

a) Sociological reductionism. This is the most readily available means of making the message an ideology. At certain times it has proved extremely influential. It involves an interpretative claim based on a hermeneutics drawn from the social sciences. It extends to the most varied fields, from market liberalism to Marxist categorization.

b) Psychologizing. Here we have to do with an elitist hermeneutics which ultimately reduces the “encounter with Jesus Christ” and its development to a process of growing self- awareness. It is ordinarily to be found in spirituality courses, spiritual retreats, etc. It ends up being an immanent, self-centred approach. It has nothing to do with transcendence and consequently, with missionary spirit.

c) The Gnostic solution. Closely linked to the previous temptation, it is ordinarily found in elite groups offering a higher spirituality, generally disembodied, which ends up in a preoccupation with certain pastoral “quaestiones disputatae”. It was the first deviation in the early community and it reappears throughout the Church’s history in ever new and revised versions. Generally its adherents are known as “enlightened Catholics” (since they are in fact rooted in the culture of the Enlightenment).

d) The Pelagian solution. This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past.

2. Functionalism. Its effect on the Church is paralyzing. More than being interested in the road itself, it is concerned with fixing holes in the road. A functionalist approach has no room for mystery; it aims at efficiency. It reduces the reality of the Church to the structure of an NGO. What counts are quantifiable results and statistics. The Church ends up being run like any other business organization. It applies a sort of “theology of prosperity” to the organization of pastoral work.

3. Clericalism is also a temptation very present in Latin America. Curiously, in the majority of cases, it has to do with a sinful complicity: the priest clericalizes the lay person and the lay person kindly asks to be clericalized, because deep down it is easier. The phenomenon of clericalism explains, in great part, the lack of maturity and Christian freedom in a good part of the Latin American laity. Either they simply do not grow (the majority), or else they take refuge in forms of ideology like those we have just seen, or in partial and limited ways of belonging. Yet in our countries there does exist a form of freedom of the laity which finds expression in communal experiences: Catholic as community. Here one sees a greater autonomy, which on the whole is a healthy thing, basically expressed through popular piety. The chapter of the Aparecida document on popular piety describes this dimension in detail. The spread of bible study groups, of ecclesial basic communities and of Pastoral Councils is in fact helping to overcome clericalism and to increase lay responsibility.

We could continue by describing other temptations against missionary discipleship, but I consider these to be the most important and influential at present for Latin America and the Caribbean.

5. Some ecclesiological guidelines

1. The missionary discipleship which Aparecida proposed to the Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean is the journey which God desires for the present “today”. Every utopian (future-oriented) or restorationist (past-oriented) impulse is spiritually unhealthy. God is real and he shows himself in the “today”. With regard to the past, his presence is given to us as “memory” of his saving work, both in his people and in each of us as individuals; with regard to the future, he gives himself to us as “promise” and hope. In the past God was present and left his mark: memory helps us to encounter him; in the future is promise alone… he is not in the thousand and one “futuribles”. The “today” is closest to eternity; even more: the “today” is a flash of eternity. In the “today”, eternal life is in play.

Missionary discipleship is a vocation: a call and an invitation. It is given in the “today”, but also “in tension”. There is no such thing as static missionary discipleship. A missionary disciple cannot be his own master, his immanence is in tension towards the transcendence of discipleship and towards the transcendence of mission. It does not allow for self-absorption: either it points to Jesus Christ or it points to the people to whom he must be proclaimed. The missionary disciple is a self-transcending subject, a subject projected towards encounter: an encounter with the Master (who anoints us as his disciples) and an encounter with men and women who await the message.

That is why I like saying that the position of missionary disciples is not in the centre but at the periphery: they live poised towards the peripheries… including the peripheries of eternity, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. In the preaching of the Gospel, to speak of “existential peripheries” decentralizes things; as a rule, we are afraid to leave the centre. The missionary disciple is someone “off centre”: the centre is Jesus Christ, who calls us and sends us forth. The disciple is sent to the existential peripheries.

2. The Church is an institution, but when she makes herself a “centre”, she becomes merely functional, and slowly but surely turns into a kind of NGO. The Church then claims to have a light of her own, and she stops being that “mysterium lunae” of which the Church Fathers spoke. She becomes increasingly self-referential and loses her need to be missionary. From an “institution” she becomes a “enterprise”. She stops being a bride and ends up being an administrator; from being a servant, she becomes an “inspector”. Aparecida wanted a Church which is bride, mother and servant, a facilitator of faith and not an inspector of faith.

3. In Aparecida, two pastoral categories stand out; they arise from the uniqueness of the Gospel, and we can employ them as guidelines for assessing how we are living missionary discipleship in the Church: nearness and encounter. Neither of these two categories is new; rather, they are the way God has revealed himself to us in history. He is the “God who is near” to his people, a nearness which culminates in the incarnation. He is the God who goes forth to meet his people. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are pastoral plans which are “distant”, disciplinary pastoral plans which give priority to principles, forms of conduct, organizational procedures… and clearly lack nearness, tenderness, a warm touch. They do not take into account the “revolution of tenderness” brought by the incarnation of the Word. There are pastoral plans designed with such a dose of distance that they are incapable of sparking an encounter: an encounter with Jesus Christ, an encounter with our brothers and sisters. Such pastoral plans can at best provide a dimension of proselytism, but they can never inspire people to feel part of or belong to the Church. Nearness creates communion and belonging; it makes room for encounter. Nearness takes the form of dialogue and creates a culture of encounter. One touchstone for measuring whether a pastoral plan embodies nearness and a capacity for encounter is the homily. What are our homilies like? Do we imitate the example of our Lord, who spoke “as one with authority”, or are they simply moralizing, detached, abstract?

4. Those who direct pastoral work, the Continental Mission (both programmatic and paradigmatic) are the bishops. Bishops must lead, which is not the same thing as being authoritarian. As well as pointing to the great figures of the Latin American episcopate, which we all know, I would like to add a few things about the profile of the bishop, which I already presented to the Nuncios at our meeting in Rome. Bishops must be pastors, close to people, fathers and brothers, and gentle, patient and merciful. Men who love poverty, both interior poverty, as freedom before the Lord, and exterior poverty, as simplicity and austerity of life. Men who do not think and behave like “princes”. Men who are not ambitious, who are married to one church without having their eyes on another. Men capable of watching over the flock entrusted to them and protecting everything that keeps it together: guarding their people out of concern for the dangers which could threaten them, but above all instilling hope: so that light will shine in people’s hearts. Men capable of supporting with love and patience God’s dealings with his people. The Bishop has to be among his people in three ways: in front of them, pointing the way; among them, keeping them together and preventing them from being scattered; and behind them, ensuring that no one is left behind, but also, and primarily, so that the flock itself can sniff out new paths.

I do not wish to go into further detail about the person of the Bishop, but simply to add, including myself in this statement, that we are lagging somewhat as far as Pastoral Conversion is concerned. We need to help one another a bit more in taking the steps that the Lord asks of us in the “today” of Latin America and the Caribbean. And this is a good place to start.

I thank you for your patience in listening to me. Pardon me if my remarks have been somewhat disjointed and please, I beg that we take seriously our calling as servants of the holy and faithful people of God, for this is where authority is exercised and demonstrated: in the ability to serve. Many thanks.

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Pope Francis' Telegram of Condolence on the Passing of Cardinal Ersilio Tonini

VATICAN CITY, July 30, 2013  - Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, 99, of the Title of the Most Holy Redeemer at Val Melaina, Archbishop Emeritus of Ravenna-Cervia, died on Saturday night, July 27.

Here is a translation of the telegram of condolence on the death of the Cardinal, sent by the Holy Father Francis to the Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia, H.E. Monsignor Lorenzo Ghizzoni.

* * *

TO HIS MOST REVEREND EXCELLENCY

MONSIGNOR LORENZO GHIZZONI

PIAZZA ARCIVESCOVADO, 1

48121 RAVENNA

I learned with sorrow the sad news of the death of the Lord Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, Archbishop Emeritus of Ravenna-Cervia and in elevating fervent prayers to God that He grant eternal rest to this zealous and generous pastor, I unite myself spiritually to the grief of that diocesan community where he exercised the episcopal ministry with solicitude. I recall with admiration his fertile and manifold apostolic activity, first as a zealous presbyter of the Piacenza clergy, then as Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino and afterwards as a solicitous and kind Archbishop of that Archdiocese, animated by the desire to proclaim Christ through simple and incisive language as well as an authentic and coherent testimony of life to the men and women of our time.

In expressing my deepest condolences to you, to the clergy, to the religious communities and to all the faithful of that beloved Archdiocese, I impart from my heart the comforting Apostolic Blessing with a special thought for those who attended to him lovingly in these last years.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Going Against A Throw-Away Culture
Pope Francis Interview on Radio Catedral

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 30, 2013  - On the afternoon of Saturday, July 27, Pope Francis visited the studios of “Radio Catedral,” the radio broadcasting station of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, and gave a brief interview. Here is a translation of the words the Holy Father addressed to the listeners.

***

Good day, good evening to all listeners. I thank you for your attention and I thank here the members of the Radio for their kindness in giving me the microphone. I thank them and I’m looking at the Radio and I see that today the means of communication are very important. I would say that today a Radio, a Catholic Radio is the closest pulpit we have. It is from where we can proclaim, through radio, human values, religious values and above all proclaim Jesus Christ, the Lord; to give the Lord the grace of making room for him among our things. So I greet and thank you for all the effort of this Archdiocese to have and maintain a Radio with such a large network. I ask all the listeners to join us in prayer and to work, as the priest said a short while ago, for a more humanist culture, richer in values and let’s not exclude anyone. May we all work for that word which isn’t pleasing today: solidarity. It is a word that one attempts to put aside always because it is bothersome and yet it is a word that reflects human and Christian values which today are required to go against – as the priest repeated a short while ago – the throw-away culture, according to which everything can be discarded. A culture that always leaves the people out: that leaves children out, that leaves young people out, that leaves the elderly out, that leaves out all those who aren’t necessary, who don’t produce -- this cannot be! On the contrary, solidarity includes everyone. You must continue to work for this culture of solidarity and for the Gospel.

A question on the importance of the family

Not only will I say that the family is important for the evangelization of the new world, but that the family is important, that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. If there is no family, the cultural survival of humanity is at risk. Like it or not, the family is at the base.

[Copyright 2013 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana]

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Francis' Press Conference on Return Flight From Brazil (Part 1)
"I am happy. It has been a good trip; it has done me good spiritually"

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 01, 2013  - Here is a ZENIT translation of the transcription provided by the Vatican of Francis' press conference on the flight home from Brazil.

* * *

Father Lombardi:

Now, dear friends, we have the joy of having with us on this return trip, the Holy Father Francis. He has been kind enough to give us a good long time to evaluate the trip with us and answer your questions in total liberty. I give him the floor for a brief introduction and then we will begin with the list of those who registered to talk and we will take them from different national and linguistic groups. Now the floor is yours, You Holiness, to begin.

Pope Francis:

Good evening and thank you so much. I am happy. It has been a good trip; it has done me good spiritually. I’m quite tired, but with a joyful heart, and I am well, well: it did me good spiritually. It does one good to meet people, because the Lord works in each one of us; He works in the heart, and the richness of the Lord is such that we can always receive many good things from others. And this does me good. This, as a first evaluation. Then I would say that the kindness, the heart of the Brazilian people is great, is true: its great. They are such kind people, a people that loves celebration, that even in suffering always finds a way to seek the good anywhere. And this is good: they are a happy people, a people who have suffered so much! The joy of Brazilians is contagious, it’s contagious! And these people have a great heart. Then I would say of the organizers, from our part as well as that of the Brazilians – but I felt I was in front of a computer, an incarnated computer … But truly, everything was absolutely punctual, no? But good. Then we had problems with security theories: security here and there; there wasn’t an incident in the whole of Rio de Janeiro in these days, and everything was spontaneous. With less security, I was able to be with the people, to embrace and greet them, without armored cars. It’s the security of trusting people. It’s true that there is always the danger that there is a madman … alas, yes, that there is a madman who does something; but there is also the Lord! But, to make an armored space between the Bishop and the people is madness, and I prefer this madness: [to be] outside and run the risk of the other madness. I prefer this madness: outside. Closeness does good to all.

Then, the organization of the Day, not something specific, but everything: the artistic part, the religious part, the catechetical part, the liturgical part … it was very beautiful! They have a capacity to express themselves in art. Yesterday, for instance, they did very beautiful things, very beautiful! Then, Aparecida. For me Aparecida is an intense religious experience. I recall the Fifth Conference. I was there to pray. I wanted to go alone, somewhat hidden, but there was an impressive crowd! It wasn’t possible [to be hidden], I knew that before arriving. And we prayed, we did. I don’t know … one thing … but also from your part. Your work was, I’m told – I didn’t read the newspapers during these days, I didn’t have the time, I did not watch the TV, nothing --, but I’m told that it was good, good, good work! Thank you, thank you for the collaboration, and thank you for having done this. Then the number, the number of young people. Today – I can’t believe it – but today the Governor spoke of three million. I can’t believe it. But from the altar -- that’s true! – I don’t know if you, some of you were at the altar: from the altar, at the end, the whole beach was full, up to the curve, more than four kilometers. But so many young people. And they say, Monsignor Tempesta told me, that they were from 178 countries: 178! The Vice-President also gave me this number: that’s certain. It’s important! Intense!

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. Now we give the floor first to Juan de Lara, who is from Efe, a Spaniard, and it’s the last trip he makes with us; so, we are happy to give him this possibility.

Juan de Lara:

Good evening, Holiness. On behalf of all our companions we want to thank you for these days you have given us in Rio de Janeiro, the work you have done, and the effort it implies and also in the name of all Spanish journalists, we want to thank you for the prayers and the praying for the victims of the train accident of Santiago de Compostela. Thank you very much. And the first question, -- it doesn’t have much to do with the trip, but we take advantage of the occasion that gives us this possibility and I wanted to ask you: Holiness, in these four months of pontificate, we see that you have created several commissions to reform the Vatican Curia. I would like to ask you: What type of reform do you have in mind? Do you contemplate the possibility of doing away with the IOR, the so-called Vatican Bank? Thank you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The steps I have taken in these four and a half months, come from two sources: the content of what had to be done, it all comes from the source of the General Congregations that we Cardinals had. They were things that we Cardinals asked for to the one who’d be the new Pope. I remember that I asked for many things, thinking of someone else. That is, we asked, this has to be done … for instance, the Commission of eight Cardinals, we know that it’s important to have an outside consultation, not the consultations that take place, but from the outside. And this is in line – here I make a sort of abstraction, thinking, however, to explain it – in the line increasingly of the maturation of the relation between the Synodality and the Primacy. That is, these eight Cardinals favor Synodality, they help the different episcopates of the world to express themselves in the government itself of the Church. Many proposals were made, which have not yet been put into practice, such as the reform of the Synod’s Secretariat, the methodology; such as the Post-Synodal Commission which has a permanent character of consultation; such as the Cardinals’ Consistories with topics that aren’t so formal – such as, for instance, canonization --, but also subjects, etc. Well, the source of the contents comes from there. The second source is the opportunity. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t hard for me, at the end of the first month of pontificate, to create the Commission of the eight Cardinals, which is one thing … The financial part I thought I’d address next year, because it’s not the most important thing to address. However, the agenda was changed due to the circumstances that you know, which are of the public domain; problems appeared which had to be addressed. The first, the problem of the IOR, namely, how to direct it, how to delineate it, how to reform it, how to heal what has to be healed, and there is the first Commission of Reference, that’s its name. You know the <chirograph>, what is requested, those who make it up, and everything. Then we had the meeting of the Commission of the fifteen Cardinals who are concerned with the economic aspects of the Holy See. They are from all parts of the world. And there, while preparing that meeting, the need was seen to establish a same Reference Commission for the whole economy of the Holy See. That is, the economic problem was addressed outside the agenda, but these things happen when in the office of government, no? One goes here but a goal is kicked from over there and one must intercept it, isn’t that right? Then, life is like this and that is what is lovely about life also. I repeat the question you asked me about the IOR, sorry, I’m speaking in Spanish. Sorry … the answer came to me in Spanish.

[Repeated in Italian]

With reference to that question you asked me about the IOR, I don’t know how the IOR will end; some say that, perhaps, it’s best if it’s a bank, others that it be an aid fund, others say to close it. Alas! These voices are heard. I don’t know. I trust the work of the people of the IOR, who are working on this, also of the Commission. The President of the IOR remains, the same one who was there before; instead the Director and the Vice-Director have resigned. But this, I cannot tell you how this story will end, and this is good also because one finds, one seeks; we are human, in this; we must find the best. But, this yes; but the characteristics of the IOR – whether a bank, an aid fund, whatever it is – must be transparent and honest. This must be so. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Many thanks, Your Holiness. So we now pass to a person of the representatives of the Italian group, and we have one whom you know well: Andrea Tornielli, who comes to ask you a question on behalf of the Italian group.

Andrea Tornielli:

Holy Father, I have a question that is, perhaps, somewhat indiscreet: the photograph has gone around the world of you, when we left, going up the steps of the plane carrying a black bag, and there were articles throughout the world that commented on this novelty: yes, of the Pope going up ... it never happened, we said, that the Pope went up with his baggage in hand. So, there were even theories about what the black bag contained. Now, my questions are: one, why did you carry the black bag and why was it not carried by a collaborator, and two, can you tell us what was inside? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

It didn’t have the key of the atomic bomb! Alas! I carried it because I’ve always done so: when I travel, I carry it. What is inside? There is my razor, there is the Breviary, there is the agenda, there is a book to read – I took one on Saint Teresina to whom I am devoted. I have always carried the bag when I travel: it’s normal. But we must be normal … I don’t know .. what you are saying is a bit strange to me, that that photo has gone around the world. But we must get used to being normal, the normality of life. I don’t know, Andrea, if I’ve answered you …

Father Lombardi:

So now we give the floor to a representative of the Portuguese language, Aura Miguel, who is from Radio Renascenca.

Aura Miguel:

Holiness, I want to ask you why you ask so insistently that we pray for you? It’s not normal, usual, to hear a Pope ask so much to pray for him.

Pope Francis:

I’ve always asked for this. When I was a priest I asked for it, but not so frequently. I began to ask for it with a certain frequency in my work as Bishop, because I feel that if the Lord doesn’t help in this work of helping the People of God to go forward, one can’t … I truly feel I have so many limitations, so many problems, also being a sinner – you know it! – and I must ask for this. But it comes from within! I also ask Our Lady to pray for me to the Lord. It’s a habit, but it’s a habit that comes from the heart and also from the need I have for my work. I feel I must ask … I don’t know, it’s like this …

Father Lombardi:

Now we pass to the group of the English language, and we give the floor to our colleague Pullella of Reuters, who is here before you.

Philip Pullella:

Holiness, thank you, on behalf of the English group, for your availability. The colleague from Lara has already asked the question we wanted to ask, so I’ll proceed somewhat on those lines, however: in the search to make these changes, I remember that you said to the group of Latin America that there are so many saints that work in the Vatican, but also persons who are somewhat less saintly, no? Have you met with resistance in your desire to change things in the Vatican? Have you found resistance? The second question is: you live in a very austere world, you have stayed in Saint Martha’s, etc. Do you want your collaborators, also the Cardinals, to follow this example and perhaps live in community, or is it something for you only?

Pope Francis:

The changes … the changes come also from two sources: what we Cardinals requested, and what comes from my personality. You were speaking of the fact that I have stayed at Saint Martha’s: but I couldn’t live alone in the Palace, and it’s not luxurious. The papal apartment isn’t so luxurious! It’s ample, big, but not luxurious, but I can’t live alone and with a small tiny group! I need people, to meet people, to talk with people … And because of this the boys of the Jesuit school asked me: “Why do you do it? Out of austerity? Poverty? No, no. Simply for psychiatric reasons, because I can’t cope psychologically. Everyone must carry his life forward, his way of living, of being. The Cardinals who work in the Curia do not live richly and magnificently: they live in an apartment, they are austere, they are austere. Those that I know, the apartments that APSA gives the Cardinals. Then it seems to me there is something else I would like to say. Each one must live as the Lord asks him to live. But austerity – a general austerity – I think is necessary for all of us who work in the service of the Church. There are so many shades of austerity … each one must find his way. In regard to the saints, this is true, there are saints: Cardinals, priests, bishops, Sisters, laymen: people who pray, people who work so much, and also who go to the poor, in a hidden way. I know of some who are concerned with feeding the poor and then, in their free time, go to do their ministry in one or another church … They are priests. There are saints in the Curia. And there are also some who aren’t so saintly, and these are those who make more noise. You know that a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows. And this grieves me when there are these things. But there are some who give scandal, some. We have this Monsignor in jail, I think he’s still in jail, he is not in jail because he resembled Blessed Imelda in fact, he isn’t a Blessed. These are scandals that cause grief. Something – I have never said this , but I recall – I think the Curia has fallen somewhat from the level that it had some time ago, of those old Curia men … the profile of the old Curia man, faithful, who did his work. We are in need of such persons. I believe … they exist, but they are not so many as there were some time ago. The profile of the old Curia man: I would say this. We need more of these. Do I find resistance? Alas! If there is resistance, I haven’t seen it yet. It’s true that I haven’t done so many things, but I can say yes, I have found help, and I have also found loyal people. For instance, I’m pleased when a person says to me: “I’m not in agreement,” and I have found this. “But I don’t see this, I don’t agree: I say it, you do it.” This is a true collaborator. And I’ve found this in the Curia. And this is good. But when there are those who say: “Ah, how good, how good, how good,” but then say the opposite on the other side … Now I can’t remember. Perhaps there are some, but I can’t remember. Resistance: in four months one can’t find so much ….

Father Lombardi:

Well then, we now go to a Brazilian, it seems right to me. Then there is Patricia Zorzan, perhaps Izoard is coming so then we also have a Frenchman.

Patricia Zorzan:

Speaking on behalf of Brazilians. The society has changed, young people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same sex. In Brazil a law has been approved which extends the right of abortion and has allowed matrimony between persons of the same sex. Why didn’t you speak about this?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

But it’s an issue that interests young people …

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

What is the position of Your Holiness, can you tell us?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

That of the Church. I’m a child of the Church.

[Repeated in Italian]

Father Lombardi:

Now we return to the Spanish group: Dario Menor Torres … ah, sorry, Izoard, whom we already called, so we have one of the French group … and then, Dario Menor.

Antoine-Marie Izoard:

Good day, Your Holiness. On behalf of colleagues of the French language on the flight – we are nine on this flight. For a Pope who is not keen on interviews, we are truly grateful to you. Since March 13, you have introduced yourself as the Bishop of Rome, with very great and strong insistence. So, we would like to understand what the profound meaning is of this insistence, if perhaps more than collegiality there is talk perhaps of ecumenism, for the case of being primus inter pares in the Church? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Yes, on this we must not go beyond what is said. The Pope is bishop, Bishop of Rome, because the Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ. There are other titles, but the first title is “Bishop of Rome,” and everything stems from there. To speak, to think what this means to be primus inter pares, no, this isn’t a consequence of that. It’s simply the Pope’s first title: Bishop of Rome. But there are also others … I think you said something about ecumenism: I believe this favors ecumenism somewhat. But, this alone …

Father Lombardi:

Now Dario Menor of La Razon of Spain:

Dario Menor Torres:

A question about your feelings. You commented a week ago on the child who asked you how you felt, if someone could imagine how he could be Pope and if he could wish for it. You said one had to be mad to do it. After your first multitudinous experience, such as these days in Rio have been, can you tell us how you feel about being Pope, if it’s very hard, if you’re happy being so and, in addition, if in some way it has enhanced your faith or on the contrary, if you have had doubts. Thank you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

To do the work of a bishop is a good thing, it’s good. The problem is when one seeks that work: this isn’t so good, this isn’t from the Lord. But when the Lord calls a priest to become bishop, this is good. There’s always the danger of thinking oneself superior to others, not as others, somewhat as a prince. These are dangers and sins. But the work of a bishop is good: it’s to help brothers to go forward. The bishop in front of the faithful, to show the way; the bishop in the midst of the faithful, to aid communion; the bishop behind the faithful, because the faithful so many times have the scent of the way. The bishop must be like this. The question was if I like it? I like being bishop, I like it. I was so happy at Buenos Aires, so happy! I have been happy, it’s true. The Lord has helped me in that. But I was happy as a priest, and I’ve been happy as a bishop. In this regard I say: I like it!

Question off-screen:

And being Pope?

Pope Francis:

Also! Also! When the Lord puts you there, if you do what the Lord wants, you are happy. This is my sentiment, what I feel.

Father Lombardi:

Now another of the Italian group: Salvatore Mazza of “Avvenire”

Salvatore Mazza:

I can’t even get up. I’m sorry, I can’t even stand up because of the many children I have at my feet. We saw in these days, we saw you full of energy even late in the evening. We are seeing it now with the plane that shakes, that you are standing calmly, without an ounce of hesitation. We wish to ask you: there is much talk of forthcoming trips. There’s talk of Asia, Jerusalem, Argentina. Do you already have a more or less definite calendar for the coming year, or is it all yet to be seen?

Pope Francis:

Nothing is defined, defined. But I can say something to which thought is being given. It’s defined – sorry – September 22 to Cagliari. Then, on October 4 to Assisi. In mind, within Italy, I would like to meet my own one day: go by plane in the morning and return with the others because they, poor things, call me and we have a good relationship. But only one day. Outside of Italy: Patriarch Bartholomew wants to have a meeting to commemorate the 50 years of Athenagoras and Paul VI at Jerusalem. The Israeli government has also extended a special invitation to go to Jerusalem. I believe the government of the Palestinian Authority has done the same. Thought is being given to this: it’s not certain whether one will or will not go … Then, in Latin America, I don’t think there is the possibility to return because the Pope is Latin American, the first trip was in Latin America … goodbye! We must wait a bit! I think we can go to Asia, but this is all in the air. I received an invitation to go to Sri Lanka and also to the Philippines. But we must go to Asia. Because Pope Benedict did not have the time to go to Asia, and it’s important. He went to Australia and then to Europe, America, but Asia … To go to Argentina: at present I think we can wait a bit, because all these trips have a certain priority. I would like to go to Constantinople, on September 30, to visit Bartholomew I, but it’s not possible, it’s not possible because of my agenda. If we meet, we’ll do so at Jerusalem.

Questions off-screen:

Fatima?

Pope Francis:

Fatima, there is also an invitation to Fatima, it’s true, it’s true. There’s an invitation to go to Fatima.

Questions off-screen:

September 30 or November 30?

Pope Francis:

November, November: Saint Andrew.

Father Lombardi:

Well then, now we go back to the United States and we call on Hada Messia of CNN to ask you a question:

Hada Messia:

Hello … you are holding up better than me … No, no, no: ok, ok. My question is: when you met with Argentine young people, somewhat jokingly, perhaps somewhat seriously you said to them that you, also, sometimes feel caged: we would like to know what you were referring to, exactly.

Pope Francis:

You know how many times I wish to go on the streets of Rome, because at Buenos Aires I used to go on the street, I liked it so much! In this connection, I feel a bit caged. But I mustn’t say this because those of the Vatican Gendarmerie are so good; they are good, good, good and I’m grateful to them. Now they let me do a few more things. I believe … their duty is to guard the security. Caged, in that sense. I would like to go on the street, but I understasnd it’s not posible: I understand it. I said it in that sense. Because my habit was – as we say in Buenos Aires – I was a street priest …

Father Lombardi:

Now we call on a Brazilian again: it’s Marcio Campos, and I also ask Guenois to come close for the next turn, for the French.

Pope Francis:

I was asking the time, because they must serve supper, but are you hungry?

Off-screen:

No, no …

Marcio Campos:

Your blessing, Holy Father. I want to say to you when you feel longing for Brazil, for the joyful Brazilian people, embrace the flag that they gave you. I want to say also that I want to thank my colleagues of the newspapers Folha de Sao Paulo, Estado, Globo and Veja for representing them with a question. Holy Father, it’s very difficult to accompany a Pope. We are all tired. You are fine and we are tired. In Brazil, the Catholic Church has lost faithful over the years. Is the Charismatic Renewal Movement a possibility to avoid the faithful joining the Pentecostal churches? Thank you very much for your presence, and thank you very much for our being on your flight.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

What you say is very true about the loss of faithful: it’s true, it’s true. There are statistics. We spoke with the Brazilian bishops about the problem, in a meeting we had yesterday. You asked about the Charismatic Renewal Movement. I’ll tell you something. In the years, at the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s, I couldn’t stand them. Once, speaking of them, I said this phrase: “They confuse a liturgical celebration with a samba school!” I said this. But I repented. Then, I got to know them better. It’s also true that the Movement, with good advisers, has gone on a good path. And now I think this Movement has done so much good to the Church in general. At Buenos Aires, I met with them often and once a year had a Mass with all of them in the Cathedral. I’ve always favored them, after I was converted, when I saw the good they do. Because at this moment of the Church – and here I lengthen the answer a bit – I think the Movements are necessary. The Movements are a grace of the Holy Spirit. “But how can one stop a Movement that is so free?” The Church is also free! The Holy Spirit does what He wishes. Then He does the work of harmonizing, but I think the Movements are a grace, those Movements that have the spirit of the Church. Because of this, I think that the Charismatic Renewal Movement not only serves to avoid some going to join Pentecostal confessions. But no! It serves the Church! It renews us. And each one seeks his Movement according to his charism, where the Spirit takes him.

Question Off-screen

Pope Francis:

I’m tired. I’m tired.

Father Lombardi:

Well then, Guenois of Le Figaro for the French group.

Jean-Marie Guenois:

Holy Father, a question with my colleague of La Croix, also: You said that the Church without women loses fecundity. What concrete measures will you take? For instance, a feminine diaconate or a woman head of a dicastery? It’s a very small technical question: You said you were tired. Do you have a special preparation for the return? Thank you, Holiness.

Pope Francis:

We begin with the last. This plane doesn’t have special preparations. I’m in front, in a good armchair, common, but ordinary, such as everyone has. I had a letter written and a telephone call made to say that I didn’t want special preparations on the plane: is it clear? Second, women. A Church without women is like the Apostolic College without Mary. The role of women in the Church is not only maternity, the mother of the family, but it’s stronger: it is, in fact, the icon of the Virgin, of Our Lady, the one who helps the Church grow! But think that Our Lady is more important than the Apostles! She is more important! The Church is feminine: she is Church, she is spouse, she is Mother. But women in the Church, not only must … I don’t know how it’s said in Italian … a woman’s role in the Church must not end only as mother, as worker, limited. No! It’s something else! But the Popes … Paul VI wrote a very beautiful thing on women, but I think we must go further in making the role and charism of women more explicit. A Church without women can’t be understood, but active women in the Church, with their profile, which they carry forward. I’m thinking of an example that has nothing to do with the Church, but it’s an historical example: in Latin America, in Paraguay. For me, the Paraguayan woman is the most glorious of Latin America. Are you Paraguayan? After the war, there were eight women for every man and these women made a rather difficult choice: the choice of having children to save the homeland, the culture, the faith and the language. In the Church, it must be made more explicit. I think we have not yet made a profound theology of woman in the Church. She can only do this or that, now she is an altar server, then she does the Reading, she is president of Caritas. But there is more! A profound theology must be made of woman. This is what I think.

Father Lombardi:

Now for the Spanish group, we have Pablo Ordaz of El Pais.

Pablo Ordaz:

We wanted to know your relation of work, not so much as friend, of collaboration with Benedict XVI. There’s never been a circumstance like this before, and if you have frequent contacts, and if he is helping you with this burden. Thank you very much.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I believe the last time there were two Popes, or three Popes, they didn’t speak to one another; they were fighting to see who was the true one. There were three in the Western Schism. There is something that …

[Repeated in Italian]

There is something that qualifies my relation with Benedict: I love him so much. I’ve always loved him. For me he is a man of God, a humble man, a man who prays. I was so happy when he was elected Pope. Also when he gave his resignation, it was for me an example of greatness! A great man. Only a great man does this! A man of God is a man of prayer. He now lives in the Vatican, and some say to me: but how can this be? Two Popes in the Vatican! But, doesn’t he encumber you? Doesn’t he make a revolution against you? All these things that are said, no? I’ve found a phrase to say this: “It’s like having a grandfather at home,” but a wise grandfather. When a grandfather is at home with a family, he is venerated, loved, listened to. He is a man of prudence! He doesn’t meddle. I’ve said to him so many times: “Holiness, you receive, make your life, come with us.” He came for the inauguration and blessing of the statue of Saint Michael. There, that phrase says everything. For me he is like having a grandfather at home: my father. If I had a difficulty or something I didn’t understand, I would telephone him: “But, tell me, can I do that?” And when I went to talk about that big problem of Vatileaks, he told me everything with a simplicity … at the service. It’s something I don’t know if you know, I think so, but I’m not sure: when he spoke to us, in his farewell address on February 28, he said to us: “The next Pope is among you: I promise obedience to him.” But he’s a great man, he is a great!

Father Lombardi:

Well now we give the floor again to a Brazilian, Anna Ferreira; and now Gian Guido Vecchi is also coming for Italian.

Anna Ferreira:

Holy Father, good evening. Thank you. I would like to say “thank you” so many times: thank you for having brought so much joy to Brazil, and thank you also for answering our questions. We, journalists, are so fond of asking questions. I would like to know, why, yesterday, you spoke to the Brazilian Bishops about women’s participation in our Church. I’d like to understand better: how should this participation be for us, women in the Church? If you … what do you think of the ordination of women? What should our position in the Church be?

Pope Francis:

I would like to explain a bit what I said on the participation of women in the Church: it can’t be limited to being altar servers or presidents of Caritas, catechists … No! It must be more, but profoundly more! Even mystically more, with what I’ve said of the theology of woman. And, with reference to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and she said : “No.” John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That is closed, that door is closed, but I’d like to say something about this. I’ve said it, but I repeat it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the Apostles, than bishops, deacons and priests. In the Church, woman is more important than bishops and priests; how, it’s what we must seek to make more explicit, because theological explicitness about this is lacking. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Gian Guido Vecchi, of Corriere della Sera: I ask Mrs. Pigozzi and Nicole then, to come after.

Gian Guido Vecchi:

Holy Father, during this trip you have spoken many times about mercy. In regard to access to the sacraments of divorced persons who have remarried, is there a possibility that something will change in the discipline of the Church? That these sacraments be an occasion to bring these people closer, rather than a barrier that separates them from the other faithful?

Pope Francis:

This is a subject that is always asked about. Mercy is greater than the case you pose. I believe this is the time of mercy. This change of era, also so many problems of the Church – such as the witness that’s not good of some priests, also problems of corruption in the Church, also the problem of clericalism, to give an example -- have left so many wounds, so many wounds. And the Church is Mother: she must go to heal the wounds with mercy. But if the Lord does not tire of forgiving, we have no other choice than this: first of all, to cure the wounds. The Church is Mother and must go on this path of mercy. And find mercy for all. But I think, when the Prodigal Son returned home, his father didn’t say: “But you, listen sit down: what did you do with the money?” No! He had a feast! Then, perhaps, when the son wished to speak, he spoke. The Church must do likewise. When there is someone … not just wait for them: go to find them! This is mercy. And I believe that this is a kairos: this time is a kairos of mercy. But John Paul II had this first intuition, when he began with Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy … he had something, he had intuited that it was a necessity of this time. With reference to the problem of Communion, it’s not a problem, but when they are in a second union, they can’t. I think that it’s necessary to look at this in the totality of matrimonial ministry. And because of this it’s a problem. But also –a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of the economy, as we call it, and give a second possibility, they allow it. But I think this problem – I close the parenthesis – must be studied in the framework of matrimonial ministry. And because of this, two things: first, one of the subjects to be consulted with these eight of the Council of Cardinals, with whom we will meet, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of October, is how to go forward in matrimonial ministry, and this problem will arise there. And, a second thing: Fifteen days ago, the secretary of the Synod of Bishops was with me, for the topic of the next Synod. It was an anthropological topic, but speaking and speaking again, going and returning, we saw this anthropological topic: how faith helps the planning of the person, but in the family, and to go, therefore, to matrimonial ministry. We are on the way for a somewhat profound matrimonial ministry. And this is everyone’s problem, because there are so many, no? For instance, I’ll mention only one: Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, said that for him half of all marriages are null. Why did he say this? Because they get married without maturity, they marry without remembering that it’s for the whole of life, or they marry because socially they must marry. And the matrimonial ministry also comes into this. And also the judicial problem of the nullity of marriages, this must be reviewed, because the Ecclesiastical Tribunals are not enough for this. The problem of the matrimonial ministry is complex. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. Now, then, we have Mrs. Pigozzi who is of Paris Match, and again of the French group.

Caroline Pigozzi:

Good evening, Holy Father. I would like to know if you, since you’ve been Pope, still feel yourself a Jesuit.

Pope Francis:

It’s a theological question, because Jesuits take the vow of obedience to the Pope. But if the Pope is a Jesuit, perhaps he should take a vow of obedience to the General of the Jesuits … I don’t know how this is resolved … I feel myself a Jesuit in my spirituality, in the spirituality of the Exercises, spirituality, the one I have in my heart. But I feel so much like this that in three days I’ll go to celebrate with Jesuits the feast of Saint Ignatius: I will say the morning Mass. I haven’t changed my spirituality, no. Francis, Franciscan: no. I feel myself a Jesuit and I think like a Jesuit. Not hypocritically, but I think as a Jesuit. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

If you can still bear it, there are still some questions. Now, Nicole Winfield, who is from Associated Press, and there are … but he wasn’t … but, I had a list and I really believed that you were organized … So, ok, Elisabetta, join the list also, sorry.

Nicole Winfield:

Holiness, thank you again for having come “among the lions.” Holiness, at the fourth month of your pontificate, I would like to ask you to make a small evaluation. Can you tell us what was the best thing of being Pope, an anecdote, and what was the worst thing, and what was the thing that surprised you most in this period?

Pope Francis:

But I don’t know how to answer this, really. Big thing, big things didn’t happen. Beautiful things, yes, for instance, the meeting with Italian Bishops was so good, so good. As Bishop of the capital of Italy, I felt I was at home with them. And that was lovely, but I don’t know if it was the best. Also a painful thing, which affected my heart a lot, the visit to Lampedusa. But that’s something to weep about, that did me good. But when these boats arrive they leave some thousands there before the coast and they must arrive alone with the boat. And this makes me grieve because I think that these persons are victims of a global socio-economic system. But the worst thing – I’m sorry – that happened to me was sciatic –truly! – I had that the first month because to do the interviews I sat in an armchair, and this gave me some grief. It’s a very painful sciatic, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone! But these things: to talk with people; the meeting with seminarians and women religious was very lovely, was very lovely. Also the meeting with the students of the Jesuit colleges was very lovely, good things.

Question:

What is the thing that surprised you most?

Pope Francis:

The people, the people, the good people I’ve met. I’ve met so many good people in the Vatican. I thought what I should say, but that is true. I do justice, saying this: so many good people. So many good people, so many good people, but good, good, good!

Father Lombardi:

Elisabetta, but you know her and also Sergio Rubini, perhaps is coming close, so we have the Argentines.

Elisabetta Pique:

Pope Francis, first of all on behalf of the 50,000 Argentines that I met there and who said to me: you are going to travel with the Pope? Please, tell him he was fantastic, stupendous, ask him when he is going to travel, but you already said you aren’t going to travel … So I’m going to ask you a more difficult question. Did you get scared when you saw the “Vatileaks” report?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

No, I’m going to tell you a story about the “Vatileaks” report. When I went to see Pope Benedict, after praying in the chapel, we went to his study and I saw a big box and a thick envelope. Benedict.

[Repeated in Italian]

Benedict said to me: “All the statements, the things that the witnesses said are in this big box, all are there. But the summary and the final judgment are in this envelope. And here one says ta-ta-ta …” He had everything in his head! But what intelligence! Everything memorized everything! But no, (words in Spanish) I didn’t get sacred, no. No, no. But it’s a big problem, alas. But I didn’t get scared.

Sergio Rubin:

Holiness, two little things. This is the first one: You have insisted a lot on halting the loss of faithful. In Brazil, it’s been very strong. Do you hope that this trip will contribute to having many people return to the Church, to feel closer to her? And the second, the more personal: you like Argentina a lot, and you have Buenos Aires very much in your heart. Argentines are wondering if you miss that Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires you went around in a bus, on the streets. Thank you very much.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I think a papal trip always does one good. I believe this will do good to Brazil, but not only the presence of the Pope, but what was done in this World Youth Day, they mobilized and they will do so much good, perhaps they will help the Church a lot. But these faithful who have gone away, so many aren’t happy because they feel they belong to the Church. I believe this will be positive, not only because of the trip, but above all because of the Days, the Day was a wonderful event. And of Buenos Aires, yes, at times I miss it. And that I’ve felt. But it is a serene missing, a serene missing, it is a serene missing. But I think that you, Sergio, know better than all the others, you can answer this question, with the book you’ve written!

Father Lombardi:

Now we have the Russian and then Valentina, who was the dean, who wanted to close.

Alexey Bukalov:

Good evening Holy Father. Holy Father, returning to ecumenism: today the Orthodox are celebrating 1,025 years of Christianity. There are great celebrations in many capitals. Would you like to comment on this event, I would be happy if you did. Thank you.

Pope Francis:

In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness that I would like to say on this occasion in which you ask me this question. Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the Church that has grown most, they said this phrase to me: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus.” Consumerism, wellbeing, have done us so much harm. Instead you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reference. When one reads Dostoyevsky – I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light of the East. John Paul II wrote it in his Letter. But so many times the luxus of the West makes us lose the horizon. I don’t know, it came to me to say this. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

And now we close with Valentina that, as she began in the trip of departure, now closes on the return trip.

Valentina Alazraki:

Holiness, thank you for keeping the promise to answer our questions on the way back …

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I delayed your supper …

[Repeated in Italian]

Valentina Alazraki:

It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter … well, the serious question on behalf of all the Mexicans: When are you going to Guadalupe? But that one is of the Mexicans. Mine is: you are going to canonize two great Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. I would like to know, in your opinion, what is the model of holiness that issues from one and the other and the impact they’ve had on the Church and on you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

John XXIII is somewhat the figure of the “country priest,” the priest who loves each one of the faithful, who knows how to care for the faithful and he did this as bishop as well as nuncio. But how many testimonies of false Baptism he did in Turkey in favor of the Jews! He was a courageous man, a good country priest, with such a great sense of humor, so great, and great holiness. When he was nuncio, some didn’t like him so much in the Vatican, and when he arrived to bring things or ask for things, in certain offices they made him wait. He never, never lamented it: he prayed the Rosary, read the Breviary. Also he was one who was concerned for the poor. When Cardinal Casaroli returned from a mission – I believe in Hungary or in what was Czechoslovakia at that time, I don’t remember which of the two – he went to him to explain how the mission was, in that period of diplomacy of “small countries.” And they had the audience – 20 days later John XXIII was dead – and while Casaroli was going, he stopped him: “Ah Eminence – no, he wasn’t Eminence – Excellency, a question: do you continue to go to those youths?” Because Casaroli went to the prison of minors of Casal del Marmo and played with them. And Casaroli said: Yes, yes!” “Don’t ever abandon them.” This to a diplomat, who arrived from a tour of diplomacy, a very demanding trip, John XXIII said: “Don’t ever abandon the boys.” But he was a great man, a great man! Then there is the question of the Council: he was a man who was docile to the voice of God, because what came to him from the Holy Spirit came to him and he was docile. Pius XII thought of doing it, but the circumstances weren’t ripe to do it. I think that he [John XXIII] didn’t think of the circumstances: he felt that and he did it. A man who let himself be guided by the Lord.

Of John Paul II I wish to say he was “the great missionary of the Church”: he was a missionary, a missionary, a man who took the Gospel everywhere, you know it better than me. But how many trips did he make? But he went! He felt the fire of taking forward the Word of the Lord. He is a Paul, he is a Saint Paul, he is such a man; for me this is great. And to do the ceremony of canonization of the two together I believe is a message for the Church: these two are brave, they are brave, they are two brave men. But there is underway the cause of Paul VI and also of Pope Luciani: these two are on the way. But, again something that I believe I said, but I don’t know if here or elsewhere: the date of canonization. We thought December 8 of this year, but there’s a big problem; those who come from Poland, the poor, because those who have means can come by plane, but those who come, the poor, come by bus and in December the roads already have ice and I think the date must be thought out again. I spoke with Cardinal Dziwisz and he suggested two possibilities: either Christ the King of this year or the Sunday of Mercy of next year. I think Christ the King is too short a time for this year, because the Consistory will be on September 30 and at the end of October there is little time, but I don’t know, I must speak with Cardinal Amato about this. But I don’t think it will be December 8.

Question:

But will they be canonized together?

Pope Francis:

Together all two together, yes.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness. Who is there still? Ilze? Then we will have given everyone a chance, even more than were registered first …

Ilze Scamparini:

I would like to ask permission to ask a somewhat delicate question: another image has also gone around the world, which is that of Monsignor Ricca and news about your privacy. I would like to know, Holiness, what do you intend to do about this question. How to address this question and how Your Holiness intends to address the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis:

In regard to Monsignor Ricca, I’ve done what Canon Law orders to do, which is the investigatio previa. And from this investigatio there is nothing of which they accuse him, we haven’t found anything of that. This is the answer. But I would like to add something else on this: I see that so many times in the Church, outside of this case and also in this case, they go to look for the “sins of youth,” for instance, and this is published. Not the crimes, alas. Crimes are something else: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, the sins. But if a person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has converted, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is important for our life. When we go to confession and truly say: “I have sinned in this,” the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk that the Lord won’t forget our [sins]. That’s a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. I think so many times of Saint Peter: he committed one of the worst sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope. We must give it much thought. But, returning to your more concrete question: in this case, I’ve done the investigatio previa and we found nothing. This is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay” . They say that they exist. I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. That’s bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said and says: “these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.” The problem isn’t having this tendency, no. We must be brothers, because this is one, but there are others, others. The problem is the lobbying of this tendency: lobby of the avaricious, lobby of politicians, lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This, for me, is the more serious problem. And I thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. It seems to me we can’t do much more. We have even abused the Pope who told us he was a bit tired and we now hope he will rest a bit.

Pope Francis:

Thank you and good night, good trip and good rest.

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Pope Francis' Homily on the Feast of Saint Ignatius

VATICAN CITY, July 31, 2013  - Here is the translation of the homily given by Pope Francis this morning during Mass at the Gesu Church on the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

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In this Eucharist in which we celebrate our Father Ignatius of Loyola, in the light of the readings that we have heard, I would like to pose three simple thoughts guided by three expressions: placing Christ and the Church at the Center; allowing oneself to be conquered by Him to serve; to feel ashamed of our limits and sins, in order to be humble in front of Him and our brothers.

1. The coat of arms of us Jesuits is a monogram, the acronym of Iesus Hominum Salvator (IHS). Everyone of you can tell me: we know that very well! But this coat of arms continuously reminds us of a reality that we should never forget: the centrality of Christ for everyone of us and for the whole Society, which St. Ignatius wished that it be called of Jesus to indicate the point of reference. Of the rest, even in the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, he places in first place our Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator and Savior (cfr. EE,6). And this places us Jesuits and the entire Society to be decentered, to have in front Christ always greater, the Deus semper maior, the intimior intimo meo, which continuously takes us out of ourselves, it takes us to a certain kenosis, to escape from our own love, wants and interests (EE, 189). We cannot take for granted the question made to us, to all of us: is Christ the center of my life? Do I truly place Christ at the center of my life? Because there is always the temptation to think of us as being in the center. And when a Jesuit places himself at the center and not Christ, he is mistaken. In the first Reading, Moses repeats with insistence to the people love the Lord, to walk in his ways because He is your life (cfr. Dt. 30, 16.20). Christ is our life! The centrality of Christ corresponds as well to the centrality of the Church: they are two flames that cannot be separated; I cannot follow if not in the Church and with the Church. It is also in this case that we Jesuits and the entire Society are not in the center, we are, so to speak, displaced, we are at the service of Christ and of the Church, the Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother Hierarchical Church (cfr EE, 353). To be men rooted and founded in the Church, that is how Jesus wants us. There cannot be parallel or isolated paths. Yes, paths of searching, creative paths, yes, this is important: going to the outskirts, the vast outskirts. For this creativity is needed, but always in community, in the Church, with this affiliation that gives all of us the courage to continue forward. Serve Christ and love this Church concretely, and serve with generosity and with a spirit of obedience.

2. What is the path to live this dual centrality? Let us look at the experience of St. Paul which is also the experience of St. Ignatius. The Apostle, in the Second Reading that we have listened to, he writes: I strive towards the perfection of Christ for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. (Phil.3,12). For Paul this occurred on the road to Damascus, for Ignatius, in his house in Loyola, but the fundamental point is the same: to let oneself be conquered by Christ. I search for Christ, I serve Jesus because He searched for me first, because I have been conquered by Him: and this is the heart of our experience. But He is first, always. In spanish there is a very graphic word that explains this well: El nos primerea. He is always first. When we arrive, he arrives first and waits for us. And it is here that I wish to recall the meditation on the Kingdom in the Second Week. Christ our Lord, Eternal King, calls each and every one of us saying he who wishes to come with me must work with me, because following me in suffering, will follow me also in glory (EE,95): To be conquered by Christ to offer to this King all ourselves and all our labor (cfr. EE, 96); to tell the Lord that you wish to do everything for his greater service and praise, to imitate Him in bearing even insults, rejection, poverty (cfr EE, 98). I think of our brother in Syria at this time. To let oneself be conquered by Christ means to always reach out to those in front of me, towards the other half of Christ (cfr. Phil. 3,14) e to ask yourself with truth and sincerity: What have I done for Christ? What do I do for Christ (cfr. Phil. 3,14) What should I do for Christ? (cfr. EE, 53)

3. And I come to the final point. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it....He who is ashamed of me.... (Lk. 9,23). And so on. The shame of the Jesuit. The invitation that Jesus makes is to not be ashamed of Him, but to follow him with total devotion, trusting and relying in Him. But looking at Jesus, as St. Ignatius teaches us in the First Week, above all looking at Christ crucified, we feel that very human and very noble feeling that is the shame of not being at that height; we look at the wisdom of Christ and our own ignorance, at his omnipotence and our own weakness, to his justice and our own iniquity, to his goodness and our wickedness (cfr. EE, 59). Ask for the grace of shame, shame that comes from the continuous discussion of mercy with Him; shame that makes us blush in front of Jesus Christ; shame that places us in tune with the heart of Christ who has made himself sin for me; shame that places in harmony our hearts in tears and accompanies us in the daily sequence of my Lord. And this takes us, individually and as a Society, towards humility, to live this great virtue. Humility that makes us aware every day that it is not us that constructs the Kingdom of God, but it is always the grace of the Lord that acts in us; humility that urges us to place all of ourselves not at the service of ourselves or our ideas, but to the service of Christ and to the Church, like earthen vessels, fragile, inadequate, insufficient, but in which there is an immense treasure that we carry and make known (2 Cor. 4,7)

It is always pleasing for me to think on the sunset of the Jesuit, when a Jesuit finishes his life, when the sun sets. There are two icons of this sunset of the Jesuit that comes to mind: one classic, that of Saint Francis Xavier, looking towards China. Art has always depicted many times this sunset, this ending of Xaver. Even in literature, in that beautiful piece by Pemán. In the end, with nothing, but in front of the Lord; this does well to me, to think of this. The other sunset, the other icon that comes to mind as an example, is that of Father Arrupo in the last discussion in the refugee camp, when he tells us - this is how he himself would say it - this I say as if it were my swan song: pray. Prayer, the union with Jesus. And, after saying that, he boarded his plane, and arrived to Rome with a stroke, which began that long and exemplary sunset. Two sunsets, two icons that will do us well to look at, and return to these two. And ask for the grace that our sunset will be like theres.

Dear brothers, let us turn to Our Lady. She who carried Christ in her womb and accompanied the first steps of the Church, may she help us to place Christ and his Church always at the center of our life and our ministry; She who was the first and the most perfect disciple of her Son, may help us to let ourselves be conquered by Christ to follow and serve Him in every situation. She who responded to the announcement of the Angel with the most profound humility: Behold the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word. (Lk. 1,38), may she makes us taste the shame of our inadequateness in front of the treasure that has been entrusted to us, to live humbly in front of God. May the paternal intercession of Saint Ignatius and of all the Holy Jesuits accompany us on this path, may the continue to teach us to do all with humility, ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

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