Visit of Pope Francis to Holy Land  May 2014

 

Pope's Regina Coeli Address in Manger Square
"We entrust the future of our human family to Mary Most Holy, that new horizons may open in our world, with the promise of fraternity, solidarity and peace."

BETHLEHEM, May 25, 2014  - Regina Coeli Address

Manger Square

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we prepare to conclude our celebration, our thoughts turn to Mary Most Holy, who here, in Bethlehem, gave birth to Jesus her Son.  Our Lady is the one who, more than any other person, contemplated God in the human face of Jesus.  Assisted by Saint Joseph, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

To Mary we entrust this land and all who dwell here, that they may live in justice, peace and fraternity.  We entrust also the pilgrims who come here to draw from the sources of the Christian faith – so many of them are also present at this Holy Mass. 

Mary, watch over our families, our young people and our elderly.  Watch over those who have lost faith and hope.  Comfort the sick, the imprisoned and all who suffer.  Watch over the Church’s Pastors and the entire community of believers; may they may be “salt and light” in this blessed land.  Sustain all educational initiatives, particularly Bethlehem University.

Contemplating the Holy Family here in Bethlehem, my thoughts turn spontaneously to Nazareth, which I hope to visit, God willing, on another occasion.  From this place I embrace with affection the Christian faithful living in Galilee and I express my support for the building of the International Centre for the Family in Nazareth.

We entrust the future of our human family to Mary Most Holy, that new horizons may open in our world, with the promise of fraternity, solidarity and peace.

Regina Coeli…

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Common Declaration of Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
"Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity"

ROME, May 25, 2014  - Here is the common declaration made by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, as they met today in the Holy Land, marking the 50th anniversary of the meeting of their predecessors, Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.

* * *

1. Like our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who met here in Jerusalem fifty years ago, we too, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, were determined to meet in the Holy Land “where our common Redeemer, Christ our Lord, lived, taught, died, rose again, and ascended into Heaven, whence he sent the Holy Spirit on the infant Church” (Common communiqué of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, published after their meeting of 6 January 1964). Our meeting, another encounter of the Bishops of the Churches of Rome and Constantinople founded respectively by the two Brothers the Apostles Peter and Andrew, is a source of profound spiritual joy for us. It presents a providential occasion to reflect on the depth and the authenticity of our existing bonds, themselves the fruit of a grace-filled journey on which the Lord has guided us since that blessed day of fifty years ago.

2. Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity. We call to mind with profound gratitude the steps that the Lord has already enabled us to undertake. The embrace exchanged between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras here in Jerusalem, after many centuries of silence, paved the way for a momentous gesture, the removal from the memory and from the midst of the Church of the acts of mutual excommunication in 1054. This was followed by an exchange of visits between the respective Sees of Rome and Constantinople, by regular correspondence and, later, by the decision announced by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dimitrios, of blessed memory both, to initiate a theological dialogue of truth between Catholics and Orthodox. Over these years, God, the source of all peace and love, has taught us to regard one another as members of the same Christian family, under one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to love one another, so that we may confess our faith in the same Gospel of Christ, as received by the Apostles and expressed and transmitted to us by the Ecumenical Councils and the Church Fathers. While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together towards the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21).

3. Well aware that unity is manifested in love of God and love of neighbour, we look forward in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet. As Christians, we are called to prepare to receive this gift of Eucharistic communion, according to the teaching of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (Against Heresies, IV,18,5, PG 7,1028), through the confession of the one faith, persevering prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue. By achieving this hoped for goal, we will manifest to the world the love of God by which we are recognized as true disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 13:35).

4. To this end, the theological dialogue undertaken by the Joint International Commission offers a fundamental contribution to the search for full communion among Catholics and Orthodox. Throughout the subsequent times of Popes John Paul II and Benedict the XVI, and Patriarch Dimitrios, the progress of our theological encounters has been substantial.  Today we express heartfelt appreciation for the achievements to date, as well as for the current endeavours. This is no mere theoretical exercise, but an exercise in truth and love that demands an ever deeper knowledge of each other’s traditions in order to understand them and to learn from them. Thus we affirm once again that the theological dialogue does not seek a theological lowest common denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about deepening one’s grasp of the whole truth that Christ has given to his Church, a truth that we never cease to understand better as we follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Hence, we affirm together that our faithfulness to the Lord demands fraternal encounter and true dialogue. Such a common pursuit does not lead us away from the truth; rather, through an exchange of gifts, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it will lead us into all truth (cf. Jn 16:13).

5. Yet even as we make this journey towards full communion we already have the duty to offer common witness to the love of God for all people by working together in the service of humanity, especially in defending the dignity of the human person at every stage of life and the sanctity of family based on marriage, in promoting peace and the common good, and in responding to the suffering that continues to afflict our world. We acknowledge that hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the inequitable distribution of resources must constantly be addressed. It is our duty to seek to build together a just and humane society in which no-one feels excluded or emarginated.

6. It is our profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us. Therefore, we acknowledge in repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount to sin before the eyes of God. We reaffirm our responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care. Together, we pledge our commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation; we appeal to all people of goodwill to consider ways of living less wastefully and more frugally, manifesting less greed and more generosity for the protection of God’s world and the benefit of His people.

7. There is likewise an urgent need for effective and committed cooperation of Christians in order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith and to be treated fairly when promoting that which Christianity continues to offer to contemporary society and culture. In this regard, we invite all Christians to promote an authentic dialogue with Judaism, Islam and other religious traditions. Indifference and mutual ignorance can only lead to mistrust and unfortunately even conflict.

8. From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights. We are persuaded  that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.

9. In an historical context marked by violence, indifference and egoism, many men and women today feel that they have lost their bearings. It is precisely through our common witness to the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace. United in our intentions, and recalling the example, fifty years ago here in Jerusalem, of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, we call upon all Christians, together with believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will, to recognize the urgency of the hour that compels us to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family, while fully respecting legitimate differences, for the good of all humanity and of future generations.

10. In undertaking this shared pilgrimage to the site where our one same Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose again, we humbly commend to the intercession of the Most Holy and Ever Virgin Mary our future steps on the path towards the fullness of unity, entrusting to God’s infinite love the entire human family.

“May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num 6:25-26).
Jerusalem, 25 May 2014

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Francis' Address at Prayer Service With Patriarch Bartholomew
Let us not deprive the world of the joyful message of the resurrection! And let us not be deaf to the powerful summons to unity which rings out from this very place, in the words of the One who, risen from the dead, calls all of us 'my brothers'"

JERUSALEM, May 25, 2014  - Here is the text of the address given this evening by Pope Francis at a joint prayer service held with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

* * *

Your Holiness,
Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Basilica, which all Christians regard with the deepest veneration, my pilgrimage in the company of my beloved brother in Christ, His Holiness Bartholomaios, now reaches its culmination.  We are making this pilgrimage in the footsteps of our venerable predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, who, with courage and docility to the Holy Spirit, made possible, fifty years ago, in this holy city of Jerusalem, an historic meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople. I cordially greet all of you who are present.  In a special way I express my heartfelt gratitude to those who have made this moment possible: His Beatitude Theophilos, who has welcomed us so graciously, His Beatitude Nourhan Manoogian and Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

It is an extraordinary grace to be gathered here in prayer.  The empty tomb, that new garden grave where Joseph of Arimathea had reverently placed Jesus’ body, is the place from which the proclamation of the resurrection begins: “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead’” (Mt 28:5-7).  This proclamation, confirmed by the testimony of those to whom the risen Lord appeared, is the heart of the Christian message, faithfully passed down from generation to generation, as the Apostle Paul, from the very beginning, bears witness: “I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).  This is the basis of the faith which unites us, whereby together we profess that Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father and our sole Lord, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead” (Apostles’ Creed).  Each of us, everyone baptized in Christ, has spiritually risen from this tomb, for in baptism all of us truly became members of the body of the One who is the Firstborn of all creation; we were buried together with him, so as to be raised up with him and to walk in newness of life (cf. Rom 6:4).

Let us receive the special grace of this moment.  We pause in reverent silence before this empty tomb in order to rediscover the grandeur of our Christian vocation: we are men and women of resurrection, and not of death.  From this place we learn how to live our lives, the trials of our Churches and of the whole world, in the light of Easter morning.  Every injury, every one of our pains and sorrows, has been borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd who offered himself in sacrifice and thereby opened the way to eternal life.  His open wounds are the cleft through which the torrent of his mercy is poured out upon the world.  Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the basis of our hope!  Let us not deprive the world of the joyful message of the resurrection!  And let us not be deaf to the powerful summons to unity which rings out from this very place, in the words of the One who, risen from the dead, calls all of us “my brothers” (cf. Mt 28:10; Jn 20:17).

Clearly we cannot deny the divisions which continue to exist among us, the disciples of Jesus: this sacred place makes us even more painfully aware of how tragic they are.  And yet, fifty years after the embrace of those two venerable Fathers, we realize with gratitude and renewed amazement how it was possible, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to take truly significant steps towards unity.  We know that much distance still needs to be travelled before we attain that fullness of communion which can also be expressed by sharing the same Eucharistic table, something we ardently desire; yet our disagreements must not frighten us and paralyze our progress.  We need to believe that, just as the stone before the tomb was cast aside, so too every obstacle to our full communion will also be removed.  This will be a grace of resurrection, of which we can have a foretaste even today.  Every time we ask forgiveness of one another for our sins against other Christians and every time we find the courage to grant and receive such forgiveness, we experience the resurrection!   Every time we put behind us our longstanding prejudices and find the courage to build new fraternal relationships, we confess that Christ is truly risen!   Every time we reflect on the future of the Church in the light of her vocation to unity, the dawn of Easter breaks forth!  Here I reiterate the hope already expressed by my predecessors for a continued dialogue with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, aimed at finding a means of exercising the specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome which, in fidelity to his mission, can be open to a new situation and can be, in the present context, a service of love and of communion acknowledged by all (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Ut Unum Sint, 95-96).

Standing as pilgrims in these holy places, we also remember in our prayers the entire Middle East, so frequently and lamentably marked by acts of violence and conflict.  Nor do we forget in our prayers the many other men and women who in various parts of our world are suffering from war, poverty and hunger, as well as the many Christians who are persecuted for their faith in the risen Lord.  When Christians of different confessions suffer together, side by side, and assist one another with fraternal charity, there is born an ecumenism of suffering, an ecumenism of blood, which proves particularly powerful not only for those situations in which it occurs, but also, by virtue of the communion of the saints, for the whole Church as well.

Your Holiness, beloved brother, dear brothers and sisters all, let us put aside the misgivings we have inherited from the past and open our hearts to the working of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love (cf. Rom 5:5) and of truth (cf. Jn 16:13), in order to hasten together towards that blessed day when our full communion will be restored.  In making this journey, we feel ourselves sustained by the prayer which Jesus himself, in this city, on the eve of his passion, death and resurrection, offered to the Father for his disciples.  It is a prayer which we ourselves in humility never tire to make our own: “that they may all be one… that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

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Pope Francis' Homily at Mass in the Upper Room
"The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves. How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room!"

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014  - Here below is Pope Francis' homily during Mass with Ordinaries of the Holy Land in the Upper Room, the location of Jesus' Last Supper, 26 May 2014:

***

Dear Brothers,

It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples.  Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth.  From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.
       
In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with this power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30).
       
To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget.  The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning.
       
The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet.  Washing one another’s feet signifies welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another.  It means serving the poor, the sick and the outcast. 
       
The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice.  In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering to God our lives, our work, our joys and our sorrows… offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice. 
       
The Upper Room reminds us of friendship.  “No longer do I call you servants – Jesus said to the Twelve – but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).  The Lord makes us his friends, he reveals God’s will to us and he gives us his very self.  This is the most beautiful part of being a Christian and, especially, of being a priest: becoming a friend of the Lord Jesus.
       
The Upper Room reminds us of the Teacher’s farewell and his promise to return to his friends: “When I go… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:3).  Jesus does not leave us, nor does he ever abandon us; he precedes us to the house of the Father, where he desires to bring us as well.
       
The Upper Room, however, also reminds us of pettiness, of curiosity – “Who is the traitor?” – and of betrayal.  We ourselves, and not just others, can reawaken those attitudes whenever we look at our brother or sister with contempt, whenever we judge them, whenever by our sins we betray Jesus.
       
The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves.  How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room!  How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent.  All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.
       
Lastly, the Upper Room reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, established by the risen Jesus; a family that has a Mother, the Virgin Mary.  Christian families belong to this great family, and in it they find the light and strength to press on and be renewed, amid the challenges and difficulties of life.  All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the one Father in heaven.
       
These horizons are opened up by the Upper Room, the horizons of the Risen Lord and his Church. From here the Church goes forth, impelled by the life-giving breath of the Spirit.  Gathered in prayer with the Mother of Jesus, the Church lives in constant expectation of a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30)!

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Pope's Address in Gethsemane to Priests, Religious and Seminarians
"Here, in this place, each of us bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?"

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014  - Here is the address Pope Francis gave this afternoon to priests, religious and seminarians in the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. 

* * *
“He came out and went… to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him” (Lk 22:39).
       
At the hour which God had appointed to save humanity from its enslavement to sin, Jesus came here, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the Mount of Olives.  We now find ourselves in this holy place, a place sanctified by the prayer of Jesus, by his agony, by his sweating of blood, and above all by his “yes” to the loving will of the Father.  We dread in some sense to approach what Jesus went through at that hour; we tread softly as we enter that inner space where the destiny of the world was decided.
       
In that hour, Jesus felt the need to pray and to have with him his disciples, his friends, those who had followed him and shared most closely in his mission.  But here, at Gethsemane, following him became difficult and uncertain; they were overcome by doubt, weariness and fright.  As the events of Jesus’ passion rapidly unfolded, the disciples would adopt different attitudes before the Master: closeness, distance, hesitation.
       
Here, in this place, each of us – bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians – might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?
       
Am I among those who, when Jesus asks them to keep watch with him, fall asleep instead, and rather than praying, seek to escape, refusing to face reality?
       
Do I see myself in those who fled out of fear, who abandoned the Master at the most tragic hour in his earthly life?
       
Is there perhaps duplicity in me, like that of the one who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, who was once called Jesus’ “friend”, and yet ended up by betraying him?
       
Do I see myself in those who drew back and denied him, like Peter?  Shortly before, he had promised Jesus that he would follow him even unto death (cf. Lk 22:33); but then, put to the test and assailed by fear, he swore he did not know him.
       
Am I like those who began planning to go about their lives without him, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, foolish and slow of heart to believe the words of the prophets (cf. Lk 24:25)?
       
Or, thanks be to God, do I find myself among those who remained faithful to the end, like the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John?  On Golgotha, when everything seemed bleak and all hope seemed pointless, only love proved stronger than death.  The love of the Mother and the beloved disciple made them stay at the foot of the Cross, sharing in the pain of Jesus, to the very end.
       
Do I recognize myself in those who imitated their Master and Lord to the point of martyrdom, testifying that he was everything to them, the incomparable strength sustaining their mission and the ultimate horizon of their lives?
       
Jesus’ friendship with us, his faithfulness and his mercy, are a priceless gift which encourages us to follow him trustingly, our failures, our mistakes and betrayals notwithstanding.
       
But the Lord’s goodness does not dispense us from the need for vigilance before the Tempter, before sin, before the evil and the betrayal which can enter even into the religious and priestly life.  We are fully conscious of the disproportion between the grandeur of God’s call and of own littleness, between the sublimity of the mission and the reality of our human weakness.  Yet the Lord in his great goodness and his infinite mercy always takes us by the hand lest we drown in the sea of our fears and anxieties.  He is ever at our side, he never abandons us.  And so, let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but with courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission.
       
You, dear brothers and sisters, are called to follow the Lord with joy in this holy land!  It is a gift and it is a responsibility.  Your presence here is extremely important; the whole Church is grateful to you and she sustains you by her prayers.
       
Let us imitate the Virgin Mary and Saint John, and stand by all those crosses where Jesus continues to be crucified.  This is how the Lord calls us to follow him.
       
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also” (Jn 12:26).

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Francis' Address to Israeli President Shimon Peres
"May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace! May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind!"

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014  - Here below is the address of Pope Francis on his visit to the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

***

Mr President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind greeting and your wise words of welcome.  I am happy to be able to meet you once again, this time in Jerusalem, the city which preserves the Holy Places dear to the three great religions which worship the God who called Abraham.  The Holy Places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity.  Precisely for this reason, their sacred character must be perpetually maintained and protection given not only to the legacy of the past but also to all those who visit these sites today and to those who will visit them in the future.  May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace!  May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind!  How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the Holy Places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.

Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker.  I appreciate and admire the approach you have taken.  Peacemaking demands first and foremost respect for the dignity and freedom of every human person, which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe to be created by God and destined to eternal life.  This shared conviction enables us resolutely to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict.  Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity.

There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.  We think, for example, of recourse to violence and terrorism, all forms of discrimination on the basis of race or religion, attempts to impose one’s own point of view at the expense of the rights of others, anti-Semitism in all its possible expressions, and signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

A variety of Christian communities live and work in the State of Israel.  They are an integral part of society and participate fully in its civic, political and cultural affairs.  Christians wish, as such, to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace; they wish to do so as full-fledged citizens who reject extremism in all its forms and are committed to fostering reconciliation and harmony.

The presence of these communities and respect for their rights – as for the rights of all other religious groups and all minorities – are the guarantee of a healthy pluralism and proof of the vitality of democratic values as they are authentically embodied in the daily life and workings of the State.
       
Mr President, I assure you of my prayers for the institutions and the citizens of the State of Israel.  I likewise assure you of my constant prayer for the attainment of peace and all the inestimable goods which accompany it: security, tranquillity, prosperity and fraternity.  Finally, my thoughts turn to all those afflicted by the continuing crises in the Middle East.  I pray that their sufferings may soon be alleviated by an honourable resolution of hostilities.  Peace be upon Israel and the entire Middle East!  Shalom!

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Pope's Address to Israel's Two Chief Rabbis
"Together, we can make a great contribution to the cause of peace; together, we can bear witness, in this rapidly changing world, to the perennial importance of the divine plan of creation."

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014 - Here below is Pope Francis' address that he gave this morning on a courtesy visit to the two Chief Rabbis of Israel, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.  

***

Distinguished Chief Rabbis of Israel,
Brothers and Sisters,

I am particularly pleased to be here with you today.  I am grateful for your warm reception and your kind words of welcome.
       
As you know, from the time I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I have counted many Jews among my friends.  Two of my Rabbi friends are here with us today. Together we organized rewarding occasions of encounter and dialogue; with them I also experienced significant moments of sharing on a spiritual level.  In the first months of my pontificate, I was able to receive various organizations and representatives from the Jewish community worldwide.  As was the case with my predecessors, there have been many requests for such meetings.  Together with the numerous initiatives taking place on national and local levels, these testify to our mutual desire to know one another better, to listen to each other and to build bonds of true fraternity.

This journey of friendship represents one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council, and particularly of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, which proved so influential and whose fiftieth anniversary we will celebrate next year.  I am convinced that the progress which has been made in recent decades in the relationship between Jews and Catholics has been a genuine gift of God, one of those great works for which we are called to bless his holy name: “Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his love endures forever; who alone has wrought marvellous works, for his love endures forever” (Ps 135/136:3-4).
       
A gift of God, yes, but one which would not have come about without the efforts of so many courageous and generous people, Jews and Christians alike.  Here I would like to mention in particular the growing importance of the dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.  Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land, this dialogue was inaugurated in 2002 and is already in its twelfth year.  I would like to think that, in terms of the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah, it is just coming of age.  I am confident that it will continue and have a bright future in years to come.
       
We need to do more than simply establish reciprocal and respectful relations on a human level: we are also called, as Christians and Jews, to reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the bond existing between us.  It is a bond whose origins are from on high, one which transcends our own plans and projects, and one which remains intact despite all the difficulties which, sadly, have marked our relationship in the past.
       
On the part of Catholics, there is a clear intention to reflect deeply on the significance of the Jewish roots of our own faith.  I trust that, with your help, on the part of Jews too, there will be a continued and even growing interest in knowledge of Christianity, also in this holy land to which Christians trace their origins.  This is especially to be hoped for among young people.
       
Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common and respect in matters on which we disagree: all these can help to guide us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God’s hands.  Together, we can make a great contribution to the cause of peace; together, we can bear witness, in this rapidly changing world, to the perennial importance of the divine plan of creation; together, we can firmly oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination.  May the Lord help us to walk with confidence and strength in his ways.  Shalom!

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Pope's Address at the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem
"Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing. Remember us in your mercy."

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014 - Here below is Pope Francis' address that he gave on a visit this morning to the Memorial of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

***

“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9).
Where are you, o man? What have you come to?
In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more:
“Adam, where are you?”

This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child.
The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost…
yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss!
Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust,
That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss…

Adam, who are you?  I no longer recognize you. 
Who are you, o man?  What have you become?
Of what horror have you been capable?
What made you fall to such depths?

Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made.
The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands.
Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you.
That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).

No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart…
Who corrupted you?  Who disfigured you?
Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil?
Who convinced you that you were god?
Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters,
but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god. 

Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God:
“Adam, where are you?”

From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!”
To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness;
but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).

A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens
(cf. Bar 2:2). 
Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. 
Save us from this horror.

Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you.
Hear, Lord, and have mercy!
We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2).
Remember us in your mercy. 
Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done,
to be ashamed of this massive idolatry,
of having despised and destroyed our own flesh
which you formed from the earth,
to which you gave life with your own breath of life.
Never again, Lord, never again!

“Adam, where are you?”
Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man,
created in your own image and likeness,
was capable of doing. 

Remember us in your mercy.

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Pope Francis' Address to the Grand Mufti and the Islamic Great Council
"May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!"

JERUSALEM, May 26, 2014  - This morning, on the final day of his pilgrimage in the Holy Land, Pope Francis left the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem and drove to the Esplanade of the Mosques, entering through the Al-Asbat Gate of the Dome of the Rock. 

Upon arrival around 8:15 a.m., he was welcomed at the entrance of the Dome of the Rock by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and all of Palestine, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein and the Director General of the Jerusalem Islamic "Waqf," (the Islamic trust that controls and manages the Islamic buildings around and including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem).

Following the greetings of the Grand Mufti and the President of the Islamic Supreme Council, Pope Francis delivered his address

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Dear Muslim Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with you in this sacred place.  I thank you for the courteous invitation you have extended to me and, in particular, I wish to thank the Grand Mufti and the President of the Supreme Muslim Council.
       
Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, and in particular the historic visit of Pope Paul VI fifty years ago, the first visit of a Pope to the Holy Land, I have greatly desired to come as a pilgrim to the places which witnessed the earthly presence of Jesus Christ.  But my pilgrimage would not be complete if it did not also include a meeting with the people and the communities who live in this Land.  I am particularly happy, therefore, to be with you, dear Muslim friends.
       
At this moment I think of Abraham, who lived as a pilgrim in these lands.  Muslims, Christians and Jews see in him, albeit in different ways, a father in faith and a great example to be imitated.  He became a pilgrim, leaving his own people and his own house in order to embark on that spiritual adventure to which God called him.  
       
A pilgrim is a person who makes himself poor and sets forth on a journey.  Pilgrims set out intently toward a great and longed-for destination, and they live in the hope of a promise received (cf. Heb 11:8-19).  This was how Abraham lived, and this should be our spiritual attitude.  We can never think ourselves self-sufficient, masters of our own lives.  We cannot be content with remaining withdrawn, secure in our convictions.  Before the mystery of God we are all poor.  We realize that we must constantly be prepared to go out from ourselves, docile to God’s call and open to the future that he wishes to create for us.
       
In our earthly pilgrimage we are not alone.  We cross paths with other brothers and sisters of ours; at times we share with them a stretch of the road and at other times we experience with them a moment of rest which refreshes us.  Such is our meeting today, for which I am particularly grateful.  It is a welcome and shared moment of rest, made possible by your hospitality, on the pilgrimage of our life and that of our communities.  We are experiencing a fraternal dialogue and exchange which are able to restore us and offer us new strength to confront the common challenges before us.
       
Nor can we forget that the pilgrimage of Abraham was also a summons to righteousness: God wanted him to witness his way of acting and to imitate him.  We too wish to witness to God’s working in the world, and so, precisely in this meeting, we hear deep within us his summons to work for peace and justice, to implore these gifts in prayer and to learn from on high mercy, magnanimity and compassion.
       
Dear friends, from this holy place I make a heartfelt plea to all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters!  May we learn to understand the sufferings of others!  May no one abuse the name of God through violence!  May we work together for justice and peace!

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Audience Address: On the Trip to the Holy Land
"With this pilgrimage, I wished to take a word of hope, but I also received it in return!"

VATICAN CITY, May 28, 2014  - Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address at the General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square.

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Holy Father's Catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the past days, as you know, I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a great gift for the Church, for which I thank God. He led me to that blessed Land, which witnessed the historical presence of Jesus and where fundamental events took place ofJudaism, Christianity and Islam. I wish to renew my cordial gratitude to His Beatitude, Patriarch Fouad Twal, to the Bishops of the various rites, to the priests and to the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. These Franciscans are great! The work they do is most beautiful! My grateful thought goes also to the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian Authorities, who received me with so much courtesy, I would also say with friendship, as well as to all those who cooperated for the realization of the visit.

The main purpose of this pilgrimage was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. That was the first time in which a Successor of Peter visited the Holy Land: thus during Vatican Council II, Paul VI inaugurated the Popes’ trips outside of Italy in the contemporary age. That prophetic gesture of the Bishop of Rome and of the Patriarch of Constantinople was a milestone in the suffering but promising path of unity of all Christians, which since then has taken important steps. Therefore, my meeting with His Holiness Bartholomew, beloved brother in Christ, was the culminating moment of the visit. We prayed together at the Sepulcher of Jesus and, with us, were the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch, Nourhan, in addition to Archbishops and Bishops of different Churches and Communities, civil Authorities and many faithful. In that place where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounded, we perceived all the bitterness and sufferings of the divisions that still exist between the disciples of Christ; and truly this does so much harm, hurt to the heart. We are still divided; in that place in fact where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounded, where Jesus gave us life, we are still somewhat divided. But above all, in that celebration charged with reciprocal fraternity, esteem and affection, we heard loudly the voice of the Risen Good Shepherd who wishes to make of all his sheep only one flock. We felt the desire to heal the still open wounds and to continue with tenacity on the path towards full communion. Once more, as the preceding Popes did, I asked forgiveness for what we did to foster this division, and I ask the Holy Spirit to help us to heal the wounds that we did to other brothers. We are all brothers in Christ and, with Patriarch Bartholomew, we are friends, brothers and we shared the will to walk together, to do everything that we can do today: pray together, work together for God’s flock, seek peace, protect Creation, so many things that we have in common. And, as brothers, we must go forward.

Another purpose of this pilgrimage was to encourage in that region the path to peace, which is at the same time gift of God and commitment of men. I did so in Jordan, in Palestine and in Israel. And I did so always as a pilgrim, in the name of God and of man, bearing in my heart great compassion for the children of that Land who for too long have coexisted with war and have the right to know, finally, days of peace!

Therefore, I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves to be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit with an open and docile heart, to be ever more capable of gestures of humility, brotherhood and reconciliation. The Spirit enables one to assume these attitudes in daily life, with persons of different cultures and religions, and thus become “artisans” of peace. Peace is made with craftsmanship! There are no industries of peace, no. It is done every day through craftsmanship, and also with an open heart so that God’s gift will come. Therefore, I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves to be “anointed.”

I thanked the authorities and the people in Jordan for their commitment in welcoming the numerous refugees from areas of war, a humanitarian commitment that merits and requires the constant support of the International Community. I was impressed by the generosity of the Jordanian people in receiving refugees, so many fleeing from war in that area. May the Lord bless these hospitable people, bless them very much! And we must pray that the Lord will bless this hospitality and appeal to all international institutions to help these people in the work of hospitality they do. Also during my pilgrimage in other places I encouraged the Authorities concerned to continue their efforts to relax the tensions in the Middle Eastern area, especially in martyred Syria, as well as to continue in their search for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, I invited the President of Israel and the President of Palestine, both men of peace and artisans of peace, to come to the Vatican to pray together with me for peace. And I ask you, please, not to leave us alone: you must pray, pray so much to the Lord to give us peace, to give peace to that blessed Land! I am counting on your prayers. Strong, pray, at this time, pray much that peace will come.  

This pilgrimage to the Holy Land was also the occasion to confirm in the faith the Christian communities, which suffer so much, and to express the gratitude of the whole Church for the presence of Christians in that area and in the whole of the Middle East. These brothers of ours are courageous witnesses of hope and charity, “salt and light” in that Land. With their life of faith and prayer and with their appreciated educational and welfare activity, they work in favor of reconciliation and forgiveness, contributing to the common good of the society.

With this pilgrimage, which was a true grace of the Lord, I wished to take a word of hope, but I also received it in return! I received it from brothers and sisters who hope “against all hope” (Romans 4:18), through so many sufferings, such as those of one who has fled his country because of the conflicts; such as those , in different parts of the world, who are discriminated and scorned because of their faith in Christ. Let us continue to be close to them! We pray for them and for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East. May the prayer of the whole Church also support the path towards the full unity of Christians, so that the world will believe in the love of God that came, in Jesus Christ, to dwell among us

And I invite you all now to pray together, to pray together to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Queen of Christian Unity, the Mother of all Christians: may she give us and the whole world peace, and may she accompany us on this path of unity. [Ave Maria]

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

Summary of the Catechesis and Greeting in English:

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: My apostolic journey to the Holy Land in these days was a great grace for me and for the whole Church. It commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, which marked a milestone along the path to Christian unity. Patriarch Bartholomaios and I prayed together as brothers before the tomb of the Risen Lord and we renewed our commitment to work for full communion between the Churches. My journey was also meant to encourage the efforts of those who work for peace in the Middle East and those who care for the many people, especially refugees and children, suffering the effects of war and violence. As you know, I have invited the Presidents of Israel and Palestine to join me in praying for peace. Finally, I wished to confirm in faith the Christian communities in the Holy Land, to acknowledge their difficulties and to support their charitable and educational works. May the prayer and solidarity of the entire Church sustain their witness to the Gospel message of hope and reconciliation, and help to bring God’s gift of peace to those blessed lands.

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