Pope Francis' Visit to Sri Lanka and Philippines January 2015


Pope Francis' Address at Welcoming Ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka
"The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity."

COLOMBO, January 13, 2015  - Here is the address given by the Holy Father at the welcoming ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka where he was greeted by newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena, government authorities, as well as Cardinal Alberto Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don, Archbishop of Colombo and the bishops of the country.

* * *

Mr President,

Honourable Government Authorities,

Your Eminence, Your Excellencies,

Dear Friends,

I thank you for your warm welcome. I have looked forward to this visit to Sri Lanka and these days which we will spend together. Sri Lanka is known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean for its natural beauty. Even more importantly, this island is known for the warmth of its people and the rich diversity of their cultural and religious traditions.

Mr President, I extend to you my best wishes for your new responsibilities. I greet the distinguished members of the government and civil authorities who honour us by their presence. I am especially grateful for the presence of the eminent religious leaders who play so important a role in the life of this country. And of course, I would like to express my appreciation to the faithful, the members of the choir, and the many people who helped make this visit possible. I thank you all, from the heart, for your kindness and hospitality.

My visit to Sri Lanka is primarily pastoral. As the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, I have come to meet, encourage and pray with the Catholic people of this island. A highlight of this visit will be the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, whose example of Christian charity and respect for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, continues to inspire and teach us today. But my visit is also meant to express the Church’s love and concern for all Sri Lankans, and to confirm the desire of the Catholic community to be an active participant in the life of this society. It is a continuing tragedy in our world that so many communities are at war with themselves. The inability to reconcile differences and disagreements, whether old or new, has given rise to ethnic and religious tensions, frequently accompanied by outbreaks of violence. Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil strife, and is now seeking to consolidate peace and to heal the scars of those years. It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict. It can only be done by overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21) and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace. The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity.

Dear friends, I am convinced that the followers of the various religious traditions have an essential role to play in the delicate process of reconciliation and rebuilding which is taking place in this country. For that process to succeed, all members of society must work together; all must have a voice. All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears. Most importantly, they must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities, and learn to live as one family. Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent. Diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment. The path to justice, reconciliation and social harmony becomes all the more clearly seen.

In this sense, the great work of rebuilding must embrace improving infrastructures and meeting material needs, but also, and even more importantly, promoting human dignity, respect for human rights, and the full inclusion of each member of society. It is my hope that Sri Lanka’s political, religious and cultural leaders, by measuring their every word and action by the good and the healing it will bring, will make a lasting contribution to the material and spiritual progress of the Sri Lankan people.

Mr President, dear friends, I thank you once again for your welcome. May these days we spend together be days of friendship, dialogue and solidarity. I invoke an abundance of God’s blessings upon Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and I pray that its beauty may shine forth in the prosperity and peace of all its people.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


President Maithripala Sirisena's Address at Welcoming Ceremony for Pope Francis
"Your Holiness, this visit to Sri Lanka is of special significance, as my government is progressing on promoting dialogue and reconciliation amongst the people, as a means of consolidating the peace dividend."

COLOMBO, January 13, 2015  - Here is the address given by H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the Welcoming Ceremony for Pope Francis at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

* * *

Your Holiness,
Secretary of State and Members of the Holy See Delegation
Hon. Prime Minister
Honourable Cabinet Ministers & Members of Parliament
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a joyous and momentous occasion to welcome Your Holiness to Sri Lanka, on behalf of my Government and people. It is indeed an honour that Your Holiness has commenced this apostolic journey to Asia with a visit to Sri Lanka.

Your visit is also particularly significant to me personally, as I have been elected to the office of President only few days ago and the visit of Your Holiness gives me an opportunity to receive your blessings as I commence my term of office.

It is exactly 20 years ago that Pope John Paul II was welcomed to this very soil. At that juncture Sri Lanka was embroiled in anhilating terrorism, following the mayhem caused by the terrorists in the daily lives of the people. Your Holiness comes today to a renewed Sri Lanka, where peace and prosperity prevail in all regions of the Island, with the people enjoying its dividends, while living with dignity. Undoubtedly the initiatives have helped to address the challenge of poverty. The special priority Your Holiness attaches to the eradication of poverty, and global efforts to reduce the economic disparity between the rich and poor, are noteworthy.

Your Holiness, this visit to Sri Lanka is of special significance, as my government is progressing on promoting dialogue and reconciliation amongst the people, as a means of consolidating the peace dividend. We are a people who believe in religious tolerance and co-existence based on our centuries old spiritual heritage. The significant contribution that Your Holiness is making to bring about peace and reconciliation among nations and communities is gratifying, and this visit will contribute to Sri Lanka’s domestic efforts.

Your Holiness, I am extremely pleased that during this visit you will canonize Sri Lanka’s first Saint, Blessed Joseph Vaz, a Catholic missionary from Goa in India, who made a significant contribution to the growth of the Catholic faith in this country. This canonization is indeed an honour for the people of Sri Lanka, and those of the region, particularly of the Catholic faith.

Your Holiness, our two countries have played a significant role in fostering two of the world’s major religious faiths Christianity and Buddhism. In the Holy Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ preached to his followers “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Likewise Lord Buddha preached that “Hatred is not appeased in this world by hatred, but by loving-kindness. Evil must be conquered by goodness” (Dhammapada). These eternal teachings embody the shared values in Christianity and Buddhism which the people of my country profess. They remind us that a significant contribution can be made through inter religious dialogue to social harmony and solidarity, which was also the message of Your Holiness for the “World Day of Peace”, last week.

On behalf of the Government and people of Sri Lanka I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit. I look forward to our discussions with a view to further consolidating and strengthening the relations between Sri Lanka and the Holy See.

I seek the blessings of Your Holiness on the people of Sri Lanka, both in the country and those living abroad, and request your prayers for the county’s peace, progress, and prosperity.

I thank you.


Pope's Address at Interreligious Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka
" For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war."

COLOMBO, January 13, 2015  - Here is the text of the Holy Father's address at the Interreligious Meeting held in the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this meeting which brings together, among others, the four largest religious communities integral to the life of Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. I thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome. I also thank those who have offered prayers and blessings, and in a particular way I express my gratitude toBishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera and to the Venerable Vigithasiri Niyangoda Thero for their kind words.

I have come to Sri Lanka in the footsteps of my predecessors Popes Paul VI and John Paul II to demonstrate the great love and concern which the Catholic Church has for Sri Lanka. It is a particular grace for me to visit the Catholic community here, to confirm them in their Christian faith, to pray with them and to share their joys and sufferings. It is equally a grace to be with all of you, men and women of these great religious traditions, who share with us a desire for wisdom, truth and holiness.

At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church declared her deep and abiding respect for other religions. She stated that she "rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines" (Nostra Aetate, 2). For my part, I wish to reaffirm the Church’s sincererespect for you, your traditions and beliefs.

It is in this spirit of respect that the Catholic Church desires to cooperate with you, and with all people of good will, in seeking the welfare of all Sri Lankans. I hope that my visit will help to encourage and deepen the various forms of interreligious and ecumenical cooperation which have been undertaken in recent years.

These praiseworthy initiatives have provided opportunities for dialogue, which is essential if we are to know, understand and respect one another. But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.

Such positive developments in interreligious and ecumenical relations take on a particular significance and urgency in Sri Lanka. For too many years the men and women of this country have been victims of civil strife and violence. What is needed now is healing and unity, not further conflict and division. Surely the fostering of healing and unity is a noble task which is incumbent upon all who have at heart the good of the nation, and indeed the whole human family. It is my hope that interreligious and ecumenical cooperation will demonstrate that men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters.

How many ways there are for the followers of the different religions to carry out this service! How many are the needs that must be tended to with the healing balm of fraternal solidarity! I think in particular of the material and spiritual needs of the poor, the destitute, those who yearn for a word of consolation and hope. Here I think too of the many families who continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Above all, at this moment of your nation’s history, how many people of good will are seeking to rebuild the moral foundations of society as a whole? May the growing spirit of cooperation between the leaders of the various religious communities find expression in a commitment to put reconciliation among all Sri Lankans at the heart of every effort to renew society and its institutions. For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war. We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed.

Dear friends, I thank you once again for your generous welcome and your attention. May this fraternal encounter confirm all of us in our efforts to live in harmony and to spread the blessings of peace.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera's Welcoming Address at Interreligious Meeting
"It is no doubt a sacred and unique event which goes down in the history of Sri Lanka, and particularly in the history of the Catholic Church."

COLOMBO, January 13, 2015  - Here is the address by Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera of Ratnapura, Chairperson of the Organizing Committee, during the Opening of the Interreligious Meeting with Pope Francis at the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

* * *

In all humility, I stand before you as the Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of this event  to extend  a very  warm and cordial welcome  to all those who are present, in response to our invitation, at this lnterreligious and Ecumenical Gathering, held in the context of the pilgrimage of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to Sri Lanka.

On behalf of all present here, it is my greatest honor and privilege to welcome Your Holiness, the Universal Shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church into this distinguished gathering, organized in your honor. 

Most Holy Father, in reality, Sri Lanka is a multi-religious society, the vast majority of the people being the adherents of Buddhism. It is a singular honor and a joy, granted to all of us to welcome Your Holiness into this Interreligious and Ecumenical Gathering this evening, to greet Your Holiness and to be greeted and blessed by Your Holiness. It is no doubt a sacred and unique event which goes down in the history of Sri Lanka, and particularly in the history of the Catholic Church.

Most Holy Father, all right-thinking people clearly observe that, within the short period of your Pontificate, you have impressed the world society and have captured the hearts of many millions of people of various religious and ethnic denominations. I dare say, you have challenged us by your unassuming,un-triumphalistic, simple and humble lifestyle, emulating the example of Jesus Christ our loving Savior, of many saints and particularly of your own patron saint, St Francis of Assisi. It is indeed a singular grace and a privilege to have Your Holiness, present with us on this historical occasion. Secondly, I wish to extend respectfully a very cordial and warm welcome to His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio for Sri Lanka, to His Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo, their Excellencies; the Archbishops and the Bishops, the Most Reverend Heads of the Churches of the National Christian Council and all the Clergy and Religious present here.

Next  I wish to extend a very respectful and cordial welcome to the most Venerable Mahanayake Theros of various Nikayas, the Most Reverend Anunayake Theros, the  Most Reverend Sanganayake Theros, the members of the Maha Sangha, the Leadership and representatives of the Hindu and  Islam  Religions and all the others who are present here.

We all are indeed honored and edified by your graceful presence. We thank you very sincerely for your positive response to our invitation to participate in this very important gathering, held in honor of our Holy Father, Pope Francis in the context of his pilgrimage to Sri Lanka.

May God bless you all.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address at Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Madhu, Sri Lanka
"Mary never forgot her children on this resplendent island. Just as she never left the side of her Son on the Cross, so she never left the side of her suffering Sri Lankan children."

MADHU, January 14, 2015  - Here is the text of the Holy Father's address at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Madhu, Sri Lanka. The Pope arrived in the afternoon by helicopter to the site of the shrine. 

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are in our Mother’s house. Here she welcomes us into her home. At this shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, every pilgrim can feel at home, for here Mary brings us into the presence of her Son Jesus. Here Sri Lankans, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, come as members of one family. To Mary they commend their joys and sorrows, their hopes and needs. Here, in her home, they feel safe. They know that God is very near; they feel his love; they know his tender mercy.

There are families here today which suffered greatly in the long conflict which tore open the heart of Sri Lanka. Many people, from north and south alike, were killed in the terrible violence and bloodshed of those years. No Sri Lankan can forget the tragic events associated with this very place, or the sad day when the venerable statue of Mary, dating to the arrival of the earliest Christians in Sri Lanka, was taken away from her shrine.

But Our Lady remained always with you. She is the mother of every home, of every wounded family, of all who are seeking to return to a peaceful existence. Today we thank her for protecting the people of Sri Lanka from so many dangers, past and present. Mary never forgot her children on this resplendent island. Just as she never left the side of her Son on the Cross, so she never left the side of her suffering Sri Lankan children.

Today we want to thank Our Lady for that presence. In the wake of so much hatred, violence and destruction, we want to thank her for continuing to bring us Jesus, who alone has the power to heal open wounds and to restore peace to broken hearts. But we also want to ask her to implore for us the grace of God’s mercy. We ask also for the grace to make reparation for our sins and for all the evil which this land has known.

It is not easy to do this. Yet only when we come to understand, in the light of the Cross, the evil we are capable of, and have even been a part of, can we experience true remorse and true repentance. Only then can we receive the grace to approach one another in true contrition, offering and seeking true forgiveness. In this difficult effort to forgive and find peace, Mary is always here to encourage us, to guide us, to lead us. Just as she forgave her Son’s killers at the foot of his Cross, then held his lifeless body in her hands, so now she wants to guide Sri Lankans to greaterreconciliation, so that the balm of God’s pardon and mercy may bring true healing to all.

Finally, we want to ask Mother Mary to accompany with her prayers the efforts of Sri Lankans from both Tamil and Sinhalese speaking communities to rebuild the unity which was lost. Just as her statue came back to her shrine of Madhu after the war, so we pray that all her Sri Lankan sons and daughters may come home to God in a renewed spirit of reconciliation and fellowship.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to be with you in Mary’s house. Let us pray for one another. Above all, let us ask that this shrine may always be a house of prayer and a haven of peace. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Madhu, may all people find here inspiration and strength to build a future of reconciliation, justice and peace for all the children of this beloved land. Amen.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Cardinal Ranjith's Address Giving Thanks to Pope Francis
"The journey is difficult. We need your prayers and blessings as well as your paternal guidance"

COLOMBO, January 14, 2015 - Here is the text of a speech given this morning by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, in gratitude to the Holy Father. He addressed these words at the end of the Mass of Canonization of St. Joseph Vaz that Pope Francis celebrated. He was interrupted by applause several times. 

* * *

Most Holy Father,

It is with great joy and feelings of filial affection that we the citizens of Sri Lanka and members of the Catholic Church welcome you today into our midst. I am sure that by now you have had the opportunity to experience the simple and genuine faith of our people and the loving sense of loyalty and respect with which they have surrounded you from the moment Your Holiness touched our soil. In this I must say that joining the millions of your admirers in the world, our own people, Sri Lankans of every religion, race and social colour have welcomed this pastoral visit of yours to our beautiful little island home with deep respect and love. What is more, over and above the gift of your presence on this soil, you have given us the gift of a Saint: Saint Joseph Vaz. That gift makes us truly happy, for Sri Lanka has now its own saint, the pride of Goa and God's precious gem for Sri Lanka. We thank you for this most precious gift whose life and service here in his adoptive land, saved the faith of the Catholics during a difficult and painful period of their history and left a lasting legacy to the unending love of God for us. God truly inspired this holy man to give up his own beloved homeland and people and to launch out into the unknown, like Abraham, and to single handedly revive the faith of our ancestors. We thank the Church in Goa for this precious gift of their son to us. There are infact many who have come to join us today from this lively Church along with their patriarch and we welcome them too with grateful hearts.

Your Holiness, Sri Lanka as you mentioned in your speech to us on the 8th February last year at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, is "called the pearl of the Indian ocean on account of its natural beauty and its shape, the pearl being the shape of a tear". And pearls are indeed formed as you mentioned on a tear of an oyster. In the recent past we have shed many tears on account of the internal conflict that caused so many victims and drained away our resources. We are still struggling to rise up from that sad past and to usher in a time of true reconciliation, peace and progress for our people. The journey is difficult. We need your prayers and blessings as well as your paternal guidance. Indeed on that occasion you did promise us your prayers and we thank you for that. We call upon you to kindly help us in that search - for a true healing of hearts, the strength to ask pardon from each other for the senseless violence unleashed then, to forgive and forget that sad past and to arrive at a process of a give and take that will build bridges of understanding between the parties hurt in the conflict. We are still far away from reaching that goal. We hope and pray that your august figure which teaches us the sublime ways of religion to overcome such hurdles, will help us to reach out to one another. We call upon our beloved Saint Joseph Vaz to intercede for us in heaven so that Sri Lanka may be able to achieve the miracle of peace soon and may be able to reach out to the goal of true progress and happiness for all its people irrespective of all our differences.

Holy Father, our nation blessed by the teachings of the great world religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity does posses the moral and spiritual strength and nobility needed to generate such peace but we will all need to make that leap towards each other with a genuine spirit of reconciliation, trust and a sense of reciprocity. Holy Father do bless us in this resolve. We thank you for your presence among us and call upon you to impart your paternal and apostolic blessing on Sri Lanka, our beloved and beautiful home and on all its people.  Thank you.

[Final spontaneous greetings in Italian]


Pope's Homily at Canonization of St. Joseph Vaz
"St. Joseph Vaz continues to be an example and a teacher for many reasons, but I would like to focus on three"

COLOMBO, January 14, 2015  - Here is the text of the homily Pope Francis gave today in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the canonization Mass of St. Joseph Vaz.

* * *

“All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Is 52:10)
This is the magnificent prophecy which we heard in today’s first reading.  Isaiah foretells the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth.  This prophecy has a special meaning for us, as we celebrate the canonization of a great missionary of the Gospel, Saint Joseph Vaz.  Like countless other missionaries in the history of the Church, he responded to the Risen Lord’s command to make disciples of every nation (cf. Mt 28:19).  By his words, but more importantly, by the example of his life, he led the people of this country to the faith which gives us “an inheritance among all God’s holy ones” (cf. Acts 20:32). 
In Saint Joseph we see a powerful sign of God’s goodness and love for the people of Sri Lanka.  But we also see in him a challenge to persevere in the paths of the Gospel, to grow in holiness ourselves, and to testify to the Gospel message of reconciliation to which he dedicated his life. 
As a priest of the Oratory in his native Goa, Saint Joseph Vaz came to this country inspired by missionary zeal and a great love of its people.  Because of religious persecution, he dressed as a beggar, performing his priestly duties in secret meetings of the faithful, often at night. His efforts provided spiritual and moral strength to the beleaguered Catholic population. He had a particular desire to serve the ill and suffering.  His ministry to the sick was so appreciated by the king during a smallpox epidemic in Kandy that he was allowed greater freedom to minister.  From Kandy, he could reach out to other parts of the island.  He spent himself in missionary work and died, exhausted, at the age of forty-nine, revered for his holiness.
Saint Joseph Vaz continues to be an example and a teacher for many reasons, but I would like to focus on three.  First, he was an exemplary priest.  Here today with us are many priests and religious, both men and women, who, like Joseph Vaz, are consecrated to the service of God and neighbour.  I encourage each of you to look to Saint Joseph as a sure guide.  He teaches us how to go out to the peripheries, to make Jesus Christ everywhere known and loved.  He is also an example of patient suffering in the cause of the Gospel, an example of obedience to our superiors, an example of loving care for the Church of God (cf. Acts 20:28).  Like ourselves, Saint Joseph Vaz lived in a period of rapid and profound transformation; Catholics were a minority, and often divided within; there was occasional hostility, even persecution, from without.  And yet, because he was constantly united with the crucified Lord in prayer, he could become for all people a living icon of God’s mercy and reconciling love.
Second, Saint Joseph shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace.  His undivided love for God opened him to love for his neighbour; he ministered to those in need, whoever and wherever they were.  His example continues to inspire the Church in Sri Lanka today.  She gladly and generously serves all members of society.  She makes no distinction of race, creed, tribe, status or religion in the service she provides through her schools, hospitals, clinics, and many other charitable works.  All she asks in return is the freedom to carry out this mission.  Religious freedom is a fundamental human right.  Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth, and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion.  As the life of Saint Joseph Vaz teaches us, genuine worship of God bears fruit not in discrimination, hatred and violence, but in respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the dignity and freedom of others, and loving commitment to the welfare of all. 
Finally, Saint Joseph gives us an example of missionary zeal.  Though he came to Ceylon to minister to the Catholic community, in his evangelical charity he reached out to everyone.  Leaving behind his home, his family, the comfort of his familiar surroundings, he responded to the call to go forth, to speak of Christ wherever he was led.   Saint Joseph knew how to offer the truth and the beauty of the Gospel in a multi-religious context, with respect, dedication, perseverance and humility.  This is also the way for the followers of Jesus today.  We are called to go forth with the same zeal, the same courage, of Saint Joseph, but also with his sensitivity, his reverence for others, his desire to share with them that word of grace (cf. Acts 20:32) which has the power to build them up.  We are called to be missionary disciples.
Dear brothers and sisters,  I pray that, following the example of Saint Joseph Vaz, the Christians of this country may be confirmed in faith and make an ever greater contribution to peace, justice and reconciliation in Sri Lankan society.  This is what Christ asks of you.  This is what Saint Joseph teaches you.  This is what the Church needs of you.  I commend all of you to the prayers of our new saint, so that, in union with the Church throughout the world, you may sing a new song to the Lord and declare his glory to all the ends of the earth.  For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised (cf. Ps 96: 1-4)!  Amen.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Text of Pope's Press Conference en Route to Manila
On Questions Regarding Ecology Encyclical, St. Joseph Vaz, Freedom of Speech, Children as Suicide Bombers, Truth Commissions, Etc.

MANILA, January 16, 2015  - Here is a ZENIT translation of the transcription of the press conference Pope Francis gave on his flight Thursday from Sri Lanka to the Philippines.

* * *

Father Lombardi:

As you see, on this intermediate trip we are all ready to listen to your words. And congratulations for the first part of the trip, which was carried out so brilliantly. As usual, we will now ask you a certain number of questions. When you are tired, and want to finish, just say so and go with tranquillity. Are you already tired now?

Well, to begin, as I know that there is something that you have very much at heart and that you want to say to us about this trip, and it is the meaning of the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, then I ask you to say it right away at the beginning, in such a way that we will then have received your important message.

Then we will pass to the questions. We have several persons who are already registered. Look here.

Pope Francis:

First of all, good morning, and also a <response> to a doubt of Carolina: it’s true, the image of Our Lady of Lujan has arrived, thank you so much.

These canonizations were made with the methodology – it is foreseen in Church Law – which is called an equipollent canonization. It’s used when a man or a woman has been Blessed for a long time, and has the veneration of the People of God, in fact is venerated as a Saint, and the process of the miracle is not done. There are persons who have been like this for centuries. The process of Angela of Foligno was carried out like this; she was the first. Then I chose to do this for persons who were great evangelizers.  First of all, Peter Favre, who was an evangelizer of Europe: he died at 40, one can say, on the street; he travelled evangelizing. And then the others, the evangelizers of Canada, Francis of Laval and Mary of the Incarnation: these two were practically the founders of the Church in Canada; he as Bishop and she as a Sister, with all the apostolate they did there. Then the other is Joseph of Anchieta of Brazil, the founder of Sao Paulo, who was Blessed for a long time and now is a Saint. Here, Joseph Vaz, as evangelizer of Sri Lanka. And now, God willing, in September, I will canonize Junipero Serra in the United States, because he was the evangelizer of the West of the United States. They are figures who engaged in intense evangelization and are in tune with the spirituality and the theology of Evangelii Gaudium. I chose these figures because of this. It was this.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. So now we pass to the questions for which our colleagues registered. The first is Jerry O’Connell of America Magazine, whom you know well. We give him the floor.

Gerard O’Connell

First of all, Holy Father, I agree with Father Lombardi. Congratulations for the good outcome of the visit to Sri Lanka. I am asking a question for the English group. We agreed to make a bridge question, which connects the visit to Sri Lanka with that to the Philippines. We saw the beauty of nature in Sri Lanka, but also the vulnerability of that Island: from climate changes to the sea, etc. We are going to the Philippines and you will visit an area already stricken. For a year or more you have been studying the question of ecology and the care of creation. My question, therefore, regards three aspects. First: is climate change due in the main to the work of man, to his lack of care of nature? Second: when will your Encyclical come out? Third: As we saw in Sri Lanka, you insist a lot on cooperation between religions. Do you intend to invite other religions to meet to address this problem? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

The first question: you said a word that spares me a specification: “in the main.” I don’t know if all together, but mainly, to a large extent it’s man that slaps nature’s face continually.  We have taken somewhat possession of nature, of sister earth, of Mother Earth. I remember – you have already heard this – what an old peasant once said to me: “God forgives always, we – men – forgive sometimes, nature never forgives.” If you slap her on the face, she does so in turn. I think we have exploited nature too much – deforestation, for example. I remember at Aparecida -- at that time I didn’t understand this problem well, when I heard Brazilian Bishops speak of the deforestation of Amazonia, I did not understand well. Amazonia is a problem of the world. Then, five years ago, with a commission of human rights I appealed to the Supreme Court of Argentina to halt in the north of the country -- in the northeast, Salta, Tartagal -- to halt at least temporarily a terrible deforestation. This is one aspect. Another is one crop-cultivation. For instance, peasants know that if one cultivates corn for three years, one must then stop and cultivate something else for one or two years, to return nitrogen to the earth, so that the earth can grow. For example, <in our country> only soya is cultivated, and we continue with soya until the earth is exhausted. Not everyone does this, but it is an example, as are many others. I think man has gone too far. Thank God, today there are voices, so many voices that speak about this. At this moment I would like to recall my beloved brother Bartholomew, who for years has preached about this subject. And I read so many things to prepare this Encyclical.

I can return to this, but I don’t want to be long. Guardini – I’ll only say this – has a word that explains it well enough. He says: the second way of lack of culture is the bad one. The first is the lack of culture that we receive with creation to make it culture, but when one takes too much possession and goes beyond, this culture goes against one. We think of Hiroshima. A lack of culture is created that is the second.

The Encyclical: the first draft was made by Cardinal Turkson with his team. Then with a few others I took it and worked on it. Then with some theologians I made a third draft, and I sent a copy to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the Second Section of the Secretariat of State and to the Theologian of the Papal Household, so that they could study is thoroughly and so that I wouldn’t say “rubbish.” Three weeks later I received the answers, some very considerable, but all constructive. And now I will take a whole week in March to finish it. I believe that at the end of March it will be finished and will be sent for translations. I think that, if the work of translation goes well, – Monsignor Becciu is listening to me – he must help with this -- if it goes well, it will be able to come out in June or July. What is important is that there be some time between the issue of the Encyclical and the meeting at Paris, so that it is a contribution. The meeting in Peru was not that much. I was disappointed by the lack of courage: they stopped at a certain point. Let’s hope that at Paris the representatives will be more courageous to go forward with this.

For the third question, I believe that the dialogue between the religions is important on this point. The other religions have a good vision. On this point there is also agreement to have the same vision – not yet in the Encyclical. In fact, I have spoken with some of the other religions on the subject and I know that Cardinal Turkson has also done so and at least two theologians have done so. This has been the path. It will not be a joint declaration. The meetings will come later.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holy Father. And now we give the floor to Pia of the group of the Philippines.

Ana Patricia Hontiveros Pagkalinawan:

Holy Father, the Filipinos are very, very happy to welcome you in a few hours. My question is: what is your message for those thousands of people who could not [come to] meet you, and won’t be able to meet you in person, even if they wished to do so? I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian.

Pope Francis:

I risk being too simple in answering this, but I’ll say a word. The center, the core of the message will be the poor, the poor who want to go forward, the poor who suffered because of Typhoon Yolanda and who still suffer the consequences; the poor who have faith, hope in this commemoration of the fifth centenary of the preaching of the Gospel in the Philippines. The People of God in the Philippines, the poor, also the exploited poor, exploited by those who carry out so many social, spiritual and existential injustices. I think of them. Going to the Philippines, I think of them. The other day, January 7, in our house, at Saint Martha’s, was the celebration of Christmas of the Eastern Churches, and there were three persons of Ethiopian nationality there, and also some Filipinos who work there. And the Ethiopians did the celebration: they invited all the dependents, some 50, to lunch. I was with them and looked at the dependents of the Philippines, who have left their homeland, seeking greater wellbeing, leaving father, mother, children, to go … The poor. I don’t know … this will be the core.

Father Lombardi:

Juan Vicente Boo is coming and he will ask the question for the Spanish group

Juan Vicente Gonzalez Boo:

Holy Father, first of all I must say that, though being tired you look well.  I would like to ask you a question, on behalf of the Spanish group, on the history of Sri Lanka and its contemporary history. In the years of the civil war in Sri Lanka, there were more than 300 kamikaze attacks, suicide attacks, carried out by men, women, boys and girls. Now we are witnessing suicide attacks of boys, girls and even children. What do you think of this way of making war? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Perhaps, what I am about to say is a lack of respect, but I think it. I believe that behind every suicide attack there is an imbalance, a human imbalance. I don’t know if it’s mental, but human. Something that’s not right in that person. He lacks balance on the meaning of his life, of his own life and of that of others. He fights for … yes, gives his life, but he doesn’t give it well. So many people, so many people work – we think of missionaries, for instance – giving their life, but to build. Here one gives one’s life in self-destruction and to destroy. This is not right; there is something that’s not right.

I accompanied the thesis, not for a Doctorate but for a Licentiate, of a pilot of Alitalia who did it in Sociology on the Japanese kamikaze. I heard something from him, but this is difficult to understand. When I corrected it, it was more the methodological part. But this can’t be understood … It’s not only something of the East. There are investigations at present on a proposal that came to Italy during World War II, a proposal made to Fascism in Italy. There are no proofs, but this is being investigated. There is something there that is very much connected to dictatorial or totalitarian systems – to totalitarian systems. It is very connected to them. A totalitarian systems kills, if not life it kills possibilities, it kills the future, it kills so many things – and also life. And this is so, but it isn’t a finite problem; it’s not only Eastern; it’s important. I can’t think of anything else.

On the use of children, what I said in general applies to all but, leaving this, let’s take children. Children are used everywhere for so many things: exploited in work, exploited like slaves, exploited also sexually. Some years ago, with some members of the Senate in Argentina, we wished to carry out a campaign in the most important hotels, to say publicly that children must not be exploited by tourists there. We were unable to do so – there are hidden resistances. I don’t know if they are exploited or not; it was a preventive measure. Then, once, when I was in Germany, some newspapers fell into my hands featuring the tourist area. Tourism in that South-East Asian region which is also erotic tourism, and there were children involved. Children are exploited, but child slave labor is terrible. They are exploited also for this, but I don’t say any more.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness. Now we give the floor to Ignazio Ingrao for the Italian group.

Ignazio Ingrao:

Good morning. …. Holiness, there is great concern in the world over your safety. According to the American and Israeli Secret Services, the Vatican is in the sights of the Islamic terrorists. On fundamentalist sites, the Islamic flag has appeared flying over Saint Peter’s. There is fear also for your security in trips abroad. Look, we know that you do not want to give up direct contact with the people, but at this point, do you think that it is necessary to modify something in your conduct and in your programs? There is also fear for the safety of the faithful taking part in celebrations in case of attacks. Are you worried about this? And, more in general, in your opinion, what is the best way to respond to the threat of Muslim fundamentalists? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

For me, the best way to respond is always meekness. To be meek, humble – as bread – without being aggressive. I stand here, but there are people who don’t understand this. Then, in regard to worries: I’m worried about the faithful, and this really worries me. And I have talked about this with the Vatican Security: here, on this flight is Dr. Giani who is in charge of this; he is updated on this problem. This worries me somewhat. Am I afraid? You know that I have a defect: a good dosis of carelessness; I’m careless about these things. Sometimes I’ve asked myself: if this happened to me? And I’ve said to the Lord: Lord, I ask you only for one grace, that it not harm me, because I’m not courageous in face of pain; I am very, very fearful, but not of God. However, I know that security measure are taken, prudent but secure. Then, we’ll have to see.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness. And we hope that we too will have that same serenity, always.

So now, it’s Christoph Schmidt for the German group, who is coming quickly. Then I will tell Sebastien Maillard to be ready, and then we will ask the Pope if he wishes to continue or if he prefers a break.

Christoph Schmidt:

Good morning, Holy Father. Could you tell us about your visit to the Buddhist temple yesterday, which was a great surprise. What was the reason for such a spontaneous visit? Do you get inspiration from this religion? We know that Christian missionaries were convinced up to the 20thcentury that Buddhism was a scam, a religion of the devil. Third, what could be important in Buddhism for the future of Asia?

Pope Francis:

How was the visit, why did I go? The head of that Buddhist temple succeeded in having himself invited by the government to go to the airport and – he is very good friends with Cardinal Ranjith – he greeted me there and asked me to visit the temple – he also asked Ranjith to take me there. Then I spoke about it with the Cardinal, but there wasn’t any time because, when I arrived, I had to suspend the meeting with the Bishops, because I didn’t feel well; I was tired – those 29 kilometers of greeting of the people left me like a rag – and so there was no time. And yesterday, returning from Madhu, there was the possibility: he telephoned and we went. In that temple there are relics of two of Buddha’s disciples. They are very important for them. These relics were in England and they succeeded in having them returned: good. And thus he came to meet me at the airport and I went to meet him at his home. First.

Second. Yesterday at Madhu [Shrine of Our Lady] I saw something I would never have thought: they were not all Catholics, not even the majority! There were Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and all went there to pray; they went and said they received graces! It is in the people – and the people are never mistaken – the sense of the people was there; there was something that united them. And if they are like this so naturally united as to go together to pray in a temple  -- which is Christian but not only Christian, because they all want it – why should I not go to the Buddhist temple to greet them? This testimony yesterday at Madhu is very important. It makes us understand the meaning of inter-religiosity that is lived in Sri Lanka: there is respect between them. There are small fundamentalist groups, but they are not with the people; there are ideologues, but they are not with the people.

Then, there was the idea that they [Buddhists] would go to hell, but also the Protestants. When I was a child, at that time, 70 years ago, all Protestants were going to hell, all. This is what was said. And I remember the first experience I had of ecumenism. I recounted it the other day to directors of the Salvation Army. I was four or five years old – but I remember it, I still see it – and I was going on the street with my grandmother, who held my hand. On the opposite sidewalk two women of the Salvation Army were coming with that hat they wore before, with the bow, or some such thing. Now they no longer wear it. I asked my grandmother: “Tell me, grandmother, are they Sisters?” And she said this to me: “No, they are Protestants, but they are good.” It was the first time I heard someone speak well of a person of another religion, of a Protestant. At that time, it was said in catechesis that all were going to hell. However, I think the Church has grown much in the awareness of respect of values – as I said to them during the inter-religious meeting at Colombo. When we read what Vatican Council II says on values in other religions – respect – the Church has grown so much in regard to this. And yes, there are dark times in the history of the Church, we must say it, without embarrassment, because we are also on a path of continuous conversion: always from sin to grace. And this inter-religiosity as brothers, respecting one another always, is a grace. I don’t know if there was something else that I’ve forgotten Is that all? Vielen danke.

Father Lombardi:

Sebastien Maillard for the French group.

Sebastine Maillard:

Holy Father, yesterday morning, during the Mass, you spoke of religious freedom as a fundamental human right. However, in respect of the different religions up to what point can one go in freedom of expression, which is also a fundamental human right? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Thank you for the question, it’s intelligent. I think that both are fundamental human rights: religious freedom and freedom of expression. One cannot …. Let’s think … you are French, we go to Paris. We speak clearly. One cannot hide the truth that each one has the right to practice one’s religion freely, without offending. So we do this, we all want to do this. Second, one cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s religion, that is, in the name of God. What is happening now makes us somewhat astounded. However, we always think of our own history: how many religious wars we have had! Think of the “night of Saint Bartholomew” … How can this be understood? We have also been sinners in this. But one cannot kill in the name of God. This is an aberration; to kill in the name of God is an aberration. I think this is the main thing in regard to freedom of religion: it must be done with freedom, without offending, without imposing and killing.

Freedom of expression. Each one not only has the freedom, the right, but he also has the obligation to say what he thinks to help the common good. The obligation. We think of a Deputy or a Senator: if he does not say what he thinks is the true way, he does not collaborate for the common good -- and not just these, so many others. We have the obligation to speak openly, to have this freedom, but without offending. Because it’s true that one cannot react violently; however, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says a bad word against my mother, he will get a punch! It’s normal! It’s normal. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult others’ faith, one cannot tease about faith. In a speech – I don’t quite remember where – Pope Benedict talked about the post-positivist mentality, about post-positivist metaphysics, which in the end leads to believe that religions and religious expressions are a sort of sub-culture, which are tolerated, but are of little consequence, they are not part of the enlightened culture. And this is a legacy of the Enlightenment. So many people who run down religions, tease about them, let’s say they “giocattolizza” others’ religion, they provoke, and what can then happen is what would happen if Dr. Gasbarri said something against my mother. There’s a limit. Every religion has dignity, every religion that respects human life, the human person. And I cannot joke about it. And this is a limit. I have taken this example of a limit to say that there are limits in freedom of expression, such as that about my mother. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in answering your question. Thank you. 

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness. Now it’s already more than half an hour that we are here and have given all the groups a first turn. You have also said that you are  somewhat tired. We give you freedom. Are you still willing to continue? Tell us truthfully, however, when you wish to finish. Now we have on the list Joshua McElwee of National Catholic Reporter.

Joshua McElwee:

Holy Father, thank you again for your time. You have spoken so many times against religious extremism. Do you have some concrete idea how to involve other religious leaders to combat this problem? Perhaps a meeting at Assisi, as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had?

Pope Francis:

Thank you. This proposal was also made. I know that some are working on this. I spoke with Cardinal Tauran who is in inter-religious dialogue, and he heard this. I know that the desire did not just come from me; it came more from others, it came out of the other religions and it’s in the air. I don’t know if there is something that is being organized, but the desire is in the air. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Well then, one last question again from the Filipino group. We have Lynda Jumilla Abalos, who asks us something again, and then we leave the Pope free.

Lynda Jumilla Abalos:

Good morning, Holy Father, I regret my Italian is not very good. Holiness, you have called to truth, to reconciliation in Sri Lanka. I would like to ask if you will support the Commission for Truth in Sri Lanka and in other countries with internal conflicts.

Pope Francis:

I don’t know these Commissions very well. I know how the one in Argentina worked, at the time, after the military dictatorship, and I supported it because it was on a good path. Specifically, I cannot comment on these because I don’t know them concretely. Yes, I support all efforts to find the truth and also balanced efforts, not as revenge, but balanced, to come to an agreement. And I heard something from the President of Sri Lanka – I would not like this to be interpreted as a political comment – I repeat what I heard and with what I am in agreement. He said this to me: he wants to go ahead with the work of peace – first word – of reconciliation, first of all. Then he went ahead with another word. He said that harmony must be created in the people. Harmony is more than peace and reconciliation. It’s more. It’s even more beautiful. Harmony is also musical. And then he went on with another word, because this harmony will give us happiness and joy. Peace, reconciliation, harmony, happiness and joy. I was astounded and I said: I like to hear this, but it’s not easy. Fifth word: yes, we must go to the heart of the people. And this last, very profound word, made me think, to respond to your question: only by reaching the heart of the people, who know what suffering is, who know what injustices are, who have suffered so many things in the wars and also in dictatorships – so many things. Only by reaching there – the people also know about forgiveness – can we find just paths, without compromises, just paths to go forward in what you say. The Commissions of Investigation on the Truth are one of the elements that can help, at least I think of those of Argentina: an element that has helped. One, but there are other elements that we must use, so that we can attain peace, reconciliation, harmony, happiness and reach the heart of the people. This comes to mind, and I take the words of the President, which seemed to me well said.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holy Father, I think that you have given us more than sufficient material to work on now for the next hours of this trip.

One last very small thing. Today, in fact, Ansa Agency, which is the main agency of Italian news, is 70 years old. Faithfully, we always have someone here from Ansa coming, and also now Giovanna Chirri is here. If you would say a word of good wishes to Ansa for its 70 years …

Pope Francis:

The first time I met Ansa was when I met Francesca Ambrogetti in Buenos Aires. Francesca was the president of the group, of the team of foreign journalists in Buenos Aires. I came to know Ansa through her, and she represented Ansa very well at Buenos Aires. I wish you the best. 70 years aren’t a joke! To persevere in the service for 70 years is a great merit. I wish you the best, I wish you the best always.

When I don’t know how things are going, I have the habit of asking one thing of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus: that if she takes a problem in hand, that she send me a rose, and she does so sometimes, but in a strange way. And so I also asked her to take this trip in hand and that she send me a rose but, instead of a rose, she herself came to greet me.

Thank you, Carolina. Thank you so much to little Therese and to you. Thank you. Good day.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness and bon voyage. Rest a bit now, to prepare yourself for the next three days. Thank you all.

[Original text: Italian]


Pope's Address to Diplomatic Corps in Manila
"Like all God's gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support"

MANILA, January 16, 2015  - Here is the text of the address Pope Franis gave this morning in Manila at a meeting with the diplomatic corps.

* * *

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you, Mr President, for your kind welcome and for your words of greeting in the name of the authorities and people of the Philippines, and the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps. I am most grateful for your invitation to visit the Philippines. My visit is above all pastoral. It comes as the Church in this country is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores. The Christian message has had an immense influence on Filipino culture. It is my hope that this important anniversary will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity and aspirations of the Filipino people.

In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others. Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young. In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbors in need. At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good.

This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson. Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges. Today the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions. As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshall the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.

Essential to the attainment of these national goals is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity. The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart. 

The Bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the “Year of the Poor”. I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community.

A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played, of course, by the family and especially by young people. A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with families and with young people here in Manila. Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others. But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support. We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm. For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity – one which honors goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.

Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends: As I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia. I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live. It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement. May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development.

In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country. I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal. In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities.

Upon all of you, and upon all the men, women and children of this beloved nation, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.


Pope's Homily at Mass With Filipino Bishops, Priests, Religious
"We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of Gods grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world"

MANILA, January 16, 2015  - Here is the text of the homily Pope Francis gave this morning in Manila at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, at a Mass he celebrated with bishops, priests and religious of the country.

* * *

“Do you love me? [the crowd answers yes and Pope Francis laughingly said, "Thank you very much" as the crowd applauded and he explained that he was quoting Jesus' words] said the Lord. Do you love me? … Tend my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians. These words remind us of something essential. All pastoral ministry is born of love. All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love. Like Saint Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church.

I greet all of you with great affection. And I ask you to bring my affection to all your elderly and infirm brothers and sisters, and to all those who cannot join us today. As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelization, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations. They labored not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good. Today you carry on that work of love. Like them, you are called to build bridges, to pasture Christ’s flock, and to prepare fresh paths for the Gospel in Asia at the dawn of a new age.

“The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14). In today’s first reading Saint Paul tells us that the love we are called to proclaim is a reconciling love, flowing from the heart of the crucified Savior. We are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. We proclaim the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world. It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.

To be an ambassador for Christ means above all to invite everyone to a renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus (Evangelii Gaudium, 3). This invitation must be at the core of your commemoration of the evangelization of the Philippines. But the Gospel is also a summons to conversion, to an examination of our consciences, as individuals and as a people. As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ. The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. But it also calls Christian communities to create “circles of integrity”, networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness.

The poor. The poor are at the center of the Gospel. At the heart of the Gospel. If we take away the poor from the Gospel, we cannot understand the whole message of Jesus Christ.

As ambassadors for Christ, we, bishops, priests and religious, ought to be the first to welcome his reconciling grace into our hearts. Saint Paul makes clear what this means. It means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ. It means being the first to examine our consciences, to acknowledge our failings and sins, and to embrace the path of constant conversion. Constant conversion. Every day conversion. How can we proclaim the newness and liberating power of the Cross to others, if we ourselves refuse to allow the word of God to shake our complacency, our fear of change, our petty compromises with the ways of this world, our “spiritual worldliness” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 93)?

For us priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer. The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal! For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity. For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others.

The great danger to this, of course, is a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer. Only by becoming poor ourselves, by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping away our complacency, will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters. We will see things in a new light and thus respond with honesty and integrity to the challenge of proclaiming the radicalism of the Gospel in a society which has grown comfortable with social exclusion, polarization and scandalous inequality.

Here I would like to say a special word to the young priests, religious and seminarians among us. I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers. Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope. 

Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets. Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.

Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith. Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary. Their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary. This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential. It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 122). In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.

Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him (cf. 2 Cor 5:15). Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters. In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world. Amen.

[Original text: English]


Cardinal Tagle's Speech Thanking Holy Father
"This cathedral has been razed to the ground many times, but it refuses to disappear. It boldly rises from the ruins - just like the Filipino people"

MANILA, January 16, 2015  - Here is the text of a speech given at the end of today's Mass in Manila by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila.

* * *

Most Holy Father,

Before you are representatives of the bishops, priests, religious men and women and lay faithful of the Philippines and of Asia. In their name I welcome you to our country, to the city of Manila and to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. [applause] Welcome. Benvenuto. We are filled with joy for you are with us, especially in the first Eucharistic celebration of your pastoral visit.

The Manila Cathedral was the first cathedral church in the Philippines. It can be considered a symbol of the Filipino people. Fire destroyed the first cathedral. The succeeding five cathedrals were either partially or totally damaged by earthquakes, the most massive of which struck in 1863 burying in rubble the members of the cathedral chapter, the choir and lay faithful. The seventh cathedral was mercilessly bombed along with other buildings in the Walled City of Manila (Intramuros) during the battle of liberation in 1945. We are gathered today, Your Holiness, in the eighth cathedral building that we closed three years ago for repairs. Now it is open and it warmly welcomes you. This cathedral has been razed to the ground many times, but it refuses to disappear. It boldly rises from the ruins - just like the Filipino people. Yes, Holy Father, we bishops, priests and religious men and women have seen and lived the suffering, but also the determination of our people. "We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed." (2 Corinthians 4:8).

What is the secret of the resilience of Filipinos? Fr. Horacio de la Costa, your confrere, a Jesuit, historian, writer, priest, religious and nationalist provides an insight. He said that the Filipino has two treasures: We have two wealths: music and faith. La musica y la fede. Our melodies make our spirits soar above the tragedies of life. Our faith makes us stand up again and again after deadly fires, earthquakes, typhoons and wars. And now, as many of our poor people are just beginning to rise from recent natural and human-made calamities, as we are struggling, you, Holy Father came to us. [applause]

You bring fire, not to destroy but to purify. You bring an earthquake, not to shatter but to awaken. You bring weapons, not to kill but to assure, to encourage. Indeed, "you are Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus builds His Church" (Matthew 16:18). [applause] You are Peter who comes "to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith" (Luke 22:32). We welcome you, successor of Peter, to this blessed land of untiring hope, of infinite music and of joyful faith. With your visit, we know Jesus, only Jesus, will renew and rebuild His Church in the Philippines. Mabuhay!


Pope's Meeting with Clergy and Religious in Palo
"By your presence and your charity, you bore witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel."

MANILA, January 17, 2015  - The following are the brief remarks given by Pope Francis to the clergy and religious at the Cathedral of Palo. The Holy Father, who was originally scheduled to meet with them, had to return immediately following Mass this morning due to an oncoming tropical storm.

Also included is the prepared address the Holy Father was set to deliver which was released by the Holy See Press Office.

* * *

Thank you for your very warm welcome. The cardinal walking in now together with Cardinal Tagle is the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, and it is his birthday.  Will you sing him something?

[Crowd sings birthday greetings] Thank you.

I have to tell you something that makes me unhappy: the problem is that the way things were planned was that the plane would leave at 5pm this afternoon. But there’s a second grade typhoon, or storm that’s around us and the pilot of the plane has insisted we have to leave at 1pm. We just have time to get to the plane because the weather forecast says after 1pm it will get much worse. So I apologise to all of you.

I am so sorry about this because I had something especially prepared for you. Let us leave everything in the hands of Our Lady because I have to go now. Do you know what the problem is? Airplanes can’t land here, that’s the problem.

Let’s pray the “Hail Mary” together and then I will give you my blessing.


--- --- ---

Prepared Address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all of you with great affection in the Lord. I am happy that we are able to meet in this Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This house of prayer, along with many others, has been repaired thanks to the remarkable generosity of many people. It stands as an eloquent sign of the immense effort of rebuilding which you and your neighbors have undertaken in the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. It is also a concrete reminder to all of us that, even amid disaster and suffering, our God is constantly at work, making all things new.

Many of you have suffered greatly, not only from the destruction caused by the storm, but from the loss of family members and friends. Today let us commend to God’s mercy all those who have died, and invoke his consolation and peace upon all who still grieve. May we remember in a particular way those among us whose pain makes it hard to see the way forward. At the same time, let us thank the Lord for all those who have labored in these months to clear away the rubble, to visit the sick and dying, to comfort the grieving and to bury the dead. Their goodness, and the generous aid which came from so many people throughout the world, are a real sign that God never abandons us!

Here, in a special way, I would like to thank the many priests and religious who responded with such overwhelming generosity to the desperate needs of the people of the areas hardest hit. By your presence and your charity, you bore witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel. You made the Church present as a source of hope, healing and mercy. Together with so many of your neighbors, you also demonstrated the deep faith and the resilience of the Filipino people. The many stories of goodness and self-sacrifice which emerged from these dark days need to be remembered and passed down for future generations.

A few moments ago, I blessed the new Center for the Poor, which stands as another sign of the Church’s care and concern for our brothers and sisters in need. How many they are! And how much our Lord loves them! Today, from this place which has known such profound suffering and human need, I ask that even more be done for the poor. Above all, I ask that the poor throughout this country be treated fairly – that their dignity be respected, that political and economic policies be just and inclusive, that opportunities for employment and education be developed, and that obstacles to the delivery of social services be removed. Our treatment of the poor is the criterion on which each of us will be judged (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). I ask all of you, and all responsible for the good of society, to renew your commitment to social justice and the betterment of the poor, both here and in the Philippines as a whole.

Finally, I would like to say a word of sincere thanks to the young people present, including the seminarians and young religious. Many of you showed heroic generosity in the aftermath of the typhoon. I hope that you will always realize that true happiness comes from helping others, giving ourselves to them in self-sacrifice, mercy and compassion. In this way you will be a powerful force for the renewal of society, not only in the work of restoring buildings but more importantly, in building up God’s kingdom of holiness, justice and peace in your native land.

Dear priests and religious, dear families and friends, in this Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord let us ask that our lives continue to be sustained and transfigured by the power of his resurrection. I commend all of you to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church. May she obtain for you, and for all the beloved people of these lands, the Lord’s blessings of comfort, joy and peace. God bless you all!


Pope's Homily at Mass in Rizal Park, Manila

"It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought Gods goodness, mercy and justice into the world."

MANILA, January 18, 2015 - Here is the text of the Holy Father's homily during Mass at the "Quirino - Grandstand - Rizal Park" in Manila today.

* * *

A child is born to us, a son is given us (Is 9:5).  It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo NiñoSunday with you.  The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning.  Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between Gods Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood.  He tells us this in todays Gospel: Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it (Mk 10:15).  The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of Gods grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness, bringing the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guiding us in the paths of peace, right and justice.  The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: We are all Gods children.  That is what the Santo Niño tells us.  He reminds us of our deepest identity.  All of us are Gods children, members of Gods family.  Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become Gods adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is who we are.  This is our identity.  We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon. 
The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed!  God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph 1:3).  These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a blessing.  But it is also a vocation.  Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.
God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4).  He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world.  He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it.  But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption. 
Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up.  It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal.  But the Bible tells us that the great threat to Gods plan for us is, and always has been, the lie.  The devil is the father of lies.  Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being modern, like everyone else.  He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.  And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves.  We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.  We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.  For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world.  That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important.  He speaks powerfully to all of us.  He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as Gods family.
The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected.  The Christ Child is the protector of this great country.  When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king.  Jesus himself needed to be protected.  He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph.  He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth.  So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, Gods family, and the world, our human family.  Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.
In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16).  We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage.  Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected.  And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.
It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought Gods goodness, mercy and justice into the world.  He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross.  Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child.  May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace.  May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.
Please pray for me!  God bless you all!


Pope's Homily in Tacloban

"Jesus is the Lord, and he is Lord from the Cross. He reigned there!"

MANILA, January 18, 2015 - Here is a translation of the Spanish-language homily Pope Francis gave Saturday in Tacloban, a city decimated by the 2013 typhoon, Yolanda. 

* * *

He began in English saying: “If you allow me, I prefer today to speak in Spanish. I have a translator, a good translator. May I do that? May I? [Applause] Thank you very much.”

The Pope then continued in Spanish.

In the First Reading we heard it said that we have a Great Priest, who is able to ... 

Jesus is like us. Jesus lived like us. He is the same as us in everything, in everything except sin, because He wasn’t a sinner. However, to be more like us, He clothed himself, assumed our sin. He made himself sin. And Paul says this, who knew Him very well. And Jesus goes before us always. And when we go through a cross, He went through it first.

And if today all of us are gathered here, 14 months after, 14 months after typhoon Yolanda struck, it’s because we have the certainty that we won’t be frustrated in our faith, because Jesus went first. In his Passion, He assumed all our sorrows.

And when … allow me this confidence …  when I saw this disaster from Rome, I felt I had to be here [applause], and that day, those days, I decided to travel here. [Applause] I wanted to come to be with you, ‘a bit late,’ you’ll say to me. It’s true … but I am here. [Applause] I am here to say to you that Jesus is the Lord -- that Jesus does not let us down. [Applause]

One of you might say to me ‘Father, he let me down because I lost my home, my family, all that I had; I’m sick …’ What you say it true, and I respect your feelings. However, I look at Him there, nailed, and from there He does not let us down. [Applause] He was consecrated Lord on that throne, and there He went through all the calamities that we have. Jesus is the Lord, and he is Lord from the Cross. He reigned there!

Therefore, He is able to understand us, as we heard in the First Reading. He made Himself like us in everything. Therefore, we have a Lord who is able to weep with us, who is able to accompany us in the most difficult moments of life.

So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you, but He does know what to say to you. So many of you have lost part of your family. I just keep silent. I accompany you with my heart in silence. Looking at Christ, so many of you have asked: ‘Why, Lord?’ And the Lord answers each one in his heart from His heart.

I have no other words to say to you. Let us look at Christ. He is the Lord, and He understands us because He went through all the trials that befall us. And beside Him on the Cross was His Mother. We are like a child who is under there, who in moments of pain, of sorrow, in moments that we don’t understand anything, in moments that we want to rebel … we can only grasp her hand and cling to her skirt, and say ‘Mommy.’ As a child, who when he is afraid, cries ‘Mommy.’ It is, perhaps, the only word that can express what we feel in moments of darkness. ‘Mother, Mommy.’

Together, let us have a moment of silence. Let us look at the Lord. He can understand us because He went through everything. And let us look at Our Mother and, as the child who is under there, let us cling to her skirt, and say with our heart, ‘Mother.’ Let us make this prayer in silence, each one saying to her what he feels … [Silence] We are not alone; we have a Mother, we have Jesus, our elder brother. We are not alone.

And we also have many brothers, who in that moment of disaster came to help us. And we also feel that we ourselves are more brothers, as we have helped one another. This is the only thing I’m able to say to you. Forgive me if I have no other words, but be sure that Jesus does not let one down. Be certain that the love and tenderness of Our Mother does not let us down.

And, clinging to her as children -- with the strength that Jesus, our elder brother gives us --, let’s go forward. And let us walk as brothers. Thank you very much.”

After Communion, the Holy Father also spoke these words spontaneously:

“We have just celebrated the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. Jesus preceded us on the way and He accompanies us every moment that we gather to pray and celebrate. Thank you Lord, for being with us today. Thank you Lord, for being with us today. Thank you Lord, for sharing our grief. Thank you Lord, for giving us hope. Thank you Lord, for your great mercy. Thank you Lord, because you wanted to be as one of us. Thank you Lord, because you are always close to us., even in moments of the cross. Thank you Lord, for giving us hope. Lord, may we not be robbed of hope. Thank you, Lord, because in the darkest moment of your life on the Cross, you remembered us and left us a Mother your Mother. Thank you Lord, for not leaving us orphans.”


Pope's Address to Young People

"Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved"

MANILA, January 18, 2015 - Here is a transcription of the simultaneous translation of the address Pope Francis improvised in Spanish at his meeting today with youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

* * *

Dear young friends, when I speak spontaneously, I do it in Spanish. No? Because I don't know the English language. May I do it? [Applause. Yes!] Thank you very much.

He is Fr. Mark, a good translator.

First of all, there’s sad news today: Yesterday as Mass was about to start, a piece of the scaffolding fell and upon falling, it hit a young woman who was working in the area. And she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked for the organization and preparation for that very Mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for [an organization called Catholic Relief Services], a volunteer worker. I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our [mother], Our Lady in heaven. 

Let us pray.


[Ave Maria … Hail Mary]

Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter. Her mom is coming from Hong Kong and her father has come to Manila to wait. 

[Our Father who art in heaven]

[In English, from the prepared text:]

It is a joy for me to be with you this morning. I greet each of you from the heart, and I thank all those who made this meeting possible. During my visit to the Philippines, I wanted in a particular way to meet with young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to express the love and the hopes of the Church for you. And I want to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world.

In a special way, I thank the young people who have offered words of welcome to me.

[listing the names of the youth who spoke] Thank you very much.

And only a very small representation of females among you. Too little, eh? 

[laughter. Note: There were three young men who spoke and one young woman, who accompanied the first speaker, a child who had been rescued from the street. She asked the question to the Pope, regarding the injustices suffered by children such as prostitution and abandonment, Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it is not the fault of the children? And why are there only very few people helping us? ] 

Women have much to tell us is today’s society. [applause] Sometimes we are too 'machistas' and we don’t allow room for the woman, but women are capable of seeing things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand. Look at this fact today. She [Glyzelle] is the only one who has posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn’t even able to express it in words, but rather in tears. So when the next Pope comes [to Manila], please more girls/women among the number. [applause]

I thank you Jun that you have expressed yourself so bravely. The nucleus of your question, as I’ve said, almost doesn’t have a reply. Only when we too can cry about the things which you’ve said are we able to come close to replying to that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and cry then we can understand something. 

There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You spoke something of this. A compassion which moreover leads us to put our hand into the pocket and give something to someone, to the poor. If Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have walked by, greeted three people, and moved on [returned to the Father]. But it was only when Christ cried and was capable of crying, he understood our lives, what is going on in our lives. 

Dear girls, boys, young people, in today’s world there is a great lack of capacity of knowing how to cry. The marginalized people weep. Those that are left to one side are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But [those of us who live a life more or less without needs don’t know how to cry.] Certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed through our tears.

I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, have I learned how to weep, how to cry? [When I see a child with hunger, a child on drugs on the street, a child who doesn’t have a house, a child abandoned, a child abused, a child used by a society, as a slave]? Unfortunately, there are those who cry because they want something more. This is the first thing I’d like to say. Let us learn how to weep, as she has shown us today [indicating the girl who asked the question]. Let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she asked crying. And the great response that we can make today is, let us learn, really learn how to weep, how to cry. 

Jesus in the Gospel, he cried. He cried for his dead friend. He cried in his heart for the family that had lost its daughter. He cried when he saw the poor widow having to bury her son. And he was moved to tears, to compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians.

This is a challenge. Jun and Glyzelle have posed this challenge to us today. And when they pose this question to us, why children suffer, why this and that tragedy occurs in life, our response must either be silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous. Don’t be frightened of crying. 

Then came Leandros Santos II and his question. He also posed questions. The world of information. Today with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. And is that bad? No. It is good and it can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way of accumulating information. And we have so much information. But maybe we don’t know what to do with that information. We run the risk of becoming [museum-youth], who have everything but don’t know what to do. We don’t need youth-museums, but we do need [wise youth]. You might ask me, "Father how do we become [wise]? This is another challenge. The challenge of love.

Which is the most important subject that you have to learn in university? What is the most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: To learn how to love. Not just accumulating information without knowing what to do with it. But through that love, that that information bear fruit. 

And for this the Gospel offers a serene path and way forward. To use the three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. And the three languages, to use them in harmony. What you think, you must feel, and put into effect That information comes down to your heart and you realize it in real works. And this, harmoniously. Think what you feel and what you do. To feel what you think and do. To do what you think and what you feel. The three languages. 

Can you repeat this? To think, to feel and to do. [Youth repeat three times] And all of that, harmoniously.

Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved. [It is more difficult to let yourselves be loved than to love.] That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. Because we can love him, but the important thing is to let yourselves be loved by him. Real love is opening yourselves to the love that wants to come to you, which causes surprise in us. If you only have information, then the element of surprise is gone. Love opens you to surprise and is a surprise because it presupposes a dialogue between the two, [between the one loving and the one being loved.] And we say that God is a God of surprises because he always loved us first and he awaits us with a surprise. God surprises us. 

Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have the psychology of the computer to think we know it all. 

All the responses on the computer screen but no real surprise. In the challenge of love, God reveals himself through surprises. 

Let’s think of St. Matthew, a good financier, and he let people down because he imposed taxes against his own citizens, the Jews, to give to the Romans. He was full of money and charged these taxes. But then Jesus goes by, looks at him, and said, follow me. He couldn’t believe it.

If you have time, go and see the picture that Caravaggio painted of this scene. Jesus calls him and those around him said, "This one? He’s betrayed? He’s no good." And he holds money to himself. But the surprise of being loved overcomes him and [he follows Jesus.]

That day when Matthew left his home, said good-bye to his wife, he never thought he was going to come back without money, and concerned about how to have such a big feast, to prepare that feast for him who had loved him first, who had surprised Matthew with something very special, more important than all the money that Matthew had. 

Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be frightened of surprises. They shake the ground from under your feet, and they make us unsure. But they move us forward in the right direction. Real love leads you to spend yourselves in life. [Even with the risk of finishing with your hands empty]. 

Let us think of St. Francis. He died with empty hands, empty pockets, but with a very full heart. Not youth-museums, but wise youth. To be wise, use the three languages: To think well, to feel well and to do well. And to be wise, allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That is a good life.

Thank you.

And he who came with a good plan to show us how to go in life was Ricky. With all the activities, the multiple facets that accompany young people. Thank you Ricky, for what you do, and your friends. But I’d like to ask you Ricky, a question: You and your friends are going to give. Give help. But do you allow yourselves to receive? Ricky, answer in your heart. 

In the Gospel we just heard, there is a beautiful phrase that for me is the most important of all. The Gospel says that he looked at the young man, Jesus looked at him, and he loved him. When one sees a group of friends, Ricky and his friends, one loves them much because they do things that are very good. But the most important phrase that Jesus says, "You lack one thing."

Let us listen to this word of Jesus in silence. You lack only one thing. You lack only one thing. [Youth repeat] What is it that I lack? To all who Jesus loves so much, I ask you, do you allow others to give you from their riches to you who don’t have those riches? The Sadducees, the doctors of the law, in the time of Jesus, gave much to the people, the law, they taught them. But they never allowed the people to give them something. Jesus had to come to allow himself to feel compassion, to be loved. How many young people among you are there like this? You know how to give and yet you haven’t yet learned how to receive. You lack only one thing: [In english: Become a beggar. Become a beggar]  to become a beggar. This is what you lack. To learn how to beg. And to those to whom we give.

This isn’t easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive [from the humility of those we help]. To learn to be evangelized by the poor. Those we help. The infirm, the orphans. They have so much to offer us. Have I learned how to beg also for that? Or do I feel self-sufficient, and I am only going to offer something. You give and think that you have no need of anything. Do you know that you too are poor? Do you know your poverty and the need that you receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve, let them give to you? And this is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to the others. To learn how to offer your hand from your very own poverty. 

There were some points that I had prepared.

To learn how to love and to learn how to be loved. There is a challenge which is a challenge of integrity. 

[In English, returning to his text:]

This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change.

There is the challenge, the concern for the environment. And finally, the challenge of the poor.

[Returning to Spanish:]

To love the poor. [Your bishops want you to look upon the poor in a special way this year.] Do you think of the poor. Do you feel with the poor, do something for the poor. And do you ask the poor that they might give you the wisdom that they have?

This is what I wished to tell you all today. Sorry, I haven’t read what I prepared for you. [But there is a phrase that consoles me]: Reality is superior to ideas. And the reality that [you have proposed] that you all have is superior to the paper I have in front of me.

Thank you very much.


Pope's Address to Young People at Manila's University of Santo Tomas

"I want to transmit to you the love and hopes that the Church has placed in you"

MANILA, January 19, 2015 - On Sunday, the Pope improvised an address to youth, speaking in Spanish to the hundreds of thousands gathered at Manila’s University of Santo Tomas.

The meeting, which was a Liturgy of the Word service, was opened by the President of the Episcopal Commission for Young People and Bishop of Bangued, Monsignor Leopoldo C. Jaucian, SVD, and the greeting of a family.

After the enthronement of the Holy Cross, the testimonies of four youths – who also posed questions to the Pontiff – and biblical readings took place. Then the Holy Father gave a spontaneous address.

The Pontiff began by saying in English:

“Dear young friends, when I speak spontaneously I do so in Spanish, no? Because  I don’t know the English language. May I do so? Thank you very much! Father Marc here is a good translator.”

And he continued in Spanish:

“First of all, some sad news. Yesterday, while the Mass was about to begin, one of the towers – like that one – fell and, as it fell, it wounded a girl who was working there and she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked in the organization of that Mass. She was 27. She was young like you. She worked for an association called Catholic Relief Services. She was a volunteer.

I would like us, all together, and you, young people like her, to pray for a minute in silence and then we will invoke our heavenly Mother.

Let us pray.

[They prayed a Hail Mary all together in English]

And we also pray for her father and her mother. She was an only child. Her mother is arriving from Hong Kong. Her father has come to Manila to await her mother.”

{They prayed an Our Father all together in English]

The Pope spoke in English again and read some phrases of the text he prepared for the occasion. So, he said:

“I’m happy to be with you this morning. My affectionate greeting goes to each one of you and my gratitude to all those who made this meeting possible. On my visit to the Philippines, I wished to meet especially with you, young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to transmit to you the love and hopes that the Church has placed in you. And I wish to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to give yourselves passionately and sincerely to the great task of the renewal of your society, and that you help to build a better world.

In a special way I thank the young people who addressed words of welcome to me.”

And he added:

“Jun Chura, Leandro Santos II, Rikki Macolor, thank you very much.”

Again in Spanish, Francis continued saying:

“And the little representation of women … too few, no? [The only girl from the group of youth speakers accompanied Jun, tearfully posing the question that followed his testimony] Women have much to say to us in today’s society. Sometimes we are too machistas, and we leave no room for women, but women are able to see things with eyes that are different from those of men. Women are able to ask questions that we men never understand. Pay attention: today <Jun> asked the only question that does not have an answer And words weren’t enough; she needed to say them with tears. So, when the next Pope comes to Manila, there must be more women.

I thank you, Jun, for expressing your experience so courageously. As I just said, the core of your question almost doesn’t have an answer. Only when we are able to weep about the things that you lived, can we understand something and answer something. The great question for all is: Why do children suffer? Why do children suffer?

Only when the heart is able to ask the question and weep can we understand something. There is a worldly compassion, which is of no use to us. You spoke a bit about this … a compassion that at most makes us put our hand in our pocket and give a coin. If Christ had had that sort of compassion, he would have gone by, curing three or four, and would have returned to the Father. It was only when Christ wept and was able to weep, that He understood our dramas.

Dear boys and girls, today’s world needs to weep. The marginalized weep, those left aside weep, the scorned weep … but those of us who lead a life more or less without needs, don’t know how to weep. Certain realities of life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears.

I invite each one of you to ask himself: ‘Have I learned to weep?’ ‘Have I learned to weep when I see a hungry child, a drugged child on the street, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child used as a slave by society?’ Or is my capricious sobbing that of one who weeps because he would like to have something more? And this is the first thing I would like to say to you. Let us learn to weep as she taught us today.

Let’s not forget this testimony. The great question – Why do children suffer? She asked it, weeping. And the great answer we can all give is to learn to weep. Jesus cries in the Gospel. He wept for his dead friend; he wept in His heart for that family that had lost their daughter; he wept in His heart when He saw that mother, a poor widow, taking her son to be buried; He was moved and wept in His heart when he saw the multitudes like sheep without a shepherd. If you don’t learn how to weep, you’re not a good Christian!

And this is a challenge. Jun Chura and his friend who spoke today have posed this challenge to us. And when we are asked, ‘Why do children suffer?’ ‘Why does this or that happen, this tragic thing in life? May our answer either be silence or a word born of tears. Be courageous; don’t be afraid to cry.

And then Leandro Santos II came. He also asked questions <about> the world of information. Today, with so many media, we are informed – hyper-informed. And is this bad?’ No. It’s good and it helps. However, we run the danger of accumulating information. And we have much information, but perhaps we don’t know what to do with it. We run the risk of becoming ‘museum youth,’ who have everything but don’t know what to do. We don’t need museum youth, but wise young people.

You might ask me, ‘Father, how does one become wise?’ And this is another challenge, the challenge of love. What is the most important subject you must learn at University? What is the most important subject that must be learned in life? To learn to love. And this is the challenge that life poses to you today: to learn to love. Not just to accumulate information, because there comes a time when you don’t know what to do with it – it is a museum but, through love that information must become fruitful.

For this to happen, the Gospel proposes a serene, tranquil path: the use of three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. And to use the three languages harmoniously: what you think, what you feel and what you do. Your information goes down to your heart, moves it and does it. And it does so harmoniously. To think about what one feels and what one does; to feel what I think and what I do; to do what I think and what I feel – the three languages. Are you able to repeat the three languages? Eh? To think, to feel, to do – in a loud voice!

[All repeat it thrice in English]

And all that harmoniously.

True love is to love and to let oneself be loved. It’s more difficult to let oneself be loved than to love. That’s why it is so difficult to attain the perfect love of God. Because, we can love Him, but the most important thing is to let ourselves by loved by Him. True love is to open oneself to that love which is first, and which causes a surprise.

If one has all the information, one is closed to surprise. Love opens one to surprise. Love is always a surprise, because it implies a dialogue between two: between the one who loves and the one loved. And we say of God that He is the God of surprises, because He always loves us first, and He awaits us with a surprise. God surprises us. We must let ourselves be surprised by God. And let us not have the ‘psychology of the computer’ of thinking we know it all – ‘How does this happen?’ Wait a moment. [Francis acts as though consulting the computer] The computer has all the answers – no surprises.

In the challenge of love, God manifests Himself with surprises. Let us think of Saint Matthew. He was a good businessman; moreover, he betrayed his homeland, because he taxed the Jews to pay the Romans. He was full of money and collected taxes. Jesus passed by, saw him and said: ‘Come, follow me.’ He couldn’t believe it. Afterwards, if you have time, go look at the picture Caravaggio painted of this scene. Jesus called him, made a sign to him, and those who were with Him said: This one, who is a traitor, a scoundrel?’ And he grabs the money and doesn’t want to part with it, but the surprise of being loved overcomes him. And he follows Jesus.

That morning, when Mathew went to work and said goodbye to his wife, he never thought he’d return without the money and anxious to tell his wife to prepare a banquet – a banquet for the one who loved him first, who surprised him with something very important, more important than all the money he had.

Allow yourselves to be surprised by God; don’t be afraid of surprise. Do they move your <foundations>, eh? They make us insecure, but they put us on the way. True love leads you to <consume your> life, even at the risk of remaining with empty hands.

Let us think of Saint Francis. He left everything. He died with empty hands, but with a full heart. Agreed? Not museum youths, but wise young people. And to be wise, use the three languages: think well, feel well, and do well. And to be wise, let yourselves be surprised by the love of God. And go and <consume> your life. Thank you for your contribution today.

And Rikki was the one who came with a good plan to help us see how we can go through life. He told us about all his activities, everything that he does, all that young people do, all that they can do … Thank you Rikki, thank you for what you and your friends do. But, I’m going to ask you a question. You and your friends are going to give. You give, give, help … But do you let others give to you? Answer in your heart.

In the Gospel we just heard, there is a phrase that for me is the most important of all. The Gospel says that Jesus looked at that young man, and loved him. And when one sees the group of Rilkki’s friends, Rikki, one loves them very much, because they do very good things. However, the most important phrase that Jesus says is: ‘Only one thing is lacking.’ Let each one of us hear this word of Jesus in silence. ‘You lack only one thing.’ What do I lack? For all those that Jesus loves so much because they give so much to others, I ask: Do you let others give you of that richness you don’t have?

The Sadducees, the Doctors of the Law of Jesus’ time gave much to the people, they gave them the law, they taught them … but they never let the people give them anything. Jesus had to come to let Himself be moved by the people. How many young people – I don’t say it of you --, but how many like you who are here, are able to give but have yet to learn to receive! You lack only one thing: become a beggar, become a beggar. This is what we are lacking: to learn to beg from those to whom we give. This isn’t easy to understand. To learn to beg.

To learn to receive from the humility of those who help us.; to learn to be evangelized by the poor. The people we help – the poor, the sick, orphans – have much to give us. Do I make myself a beggar and ask for that also? Or am I sufficient and am only going to give? You who live giving always, and think you don’t need anything, do you know you are a poor fellow? Do you know that you have much poverty and that you need them to give to you? Do you let yourself be evangelized by the poor, by the sick, by those whom you help?

And this is what helps all those mature who are committed, like Rikki, in the work of giving to others. To learn to stretch out one’s hand from one’s own poverty.

There were some points I had prepared … First, which I already said, is to learn to love and to learn to let oneself be loved. In addition, there is a challenge, which is the challenge of integrity.”

At this point, the Holy Father said in English:

“And this not only because your country is probably more affected than others by climate change.

There is the challenge that concerns the environment. And, finally, the challenge of the poor.”

And the Pontiff concluded in Spanish:

“Love the poor. Your Bishops want you to look at the poor in a special way this year. Do you think of the poor? Do you feel with the poor? Do you do something for the poor? And do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have? This is what I would like to say to you today. Forgive me because I didn’t read almost anything of what I’d prepared, but there is a phrase that consoles me a little: ‘The reality is superior to the idea.’ And the reality posed, your reality, is superior to all the ideas that I had prepared. Thank you, thank you very much and pray for me.”


by Joan Lewis


Aboard the papal plane, Jan 19, 2015 / 03:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News)  -  Speaking to journalists aboard the Jan. 19 flight from Manila to Rome concluding his Asian pilgrimage, Pope Francis discussed what he learned from Filipinos; his upcoming trip to Philadelphia and other U.S. cities; how one can be a responsible parent without resorting to birth control; the colonization of gender ideology; and the possibility of a papal trip to Africa.

Below is a full transcript of the discussion between Pope Francis and journalists during Monday's flight:

Pope Francis: First of all I greet you: good day, thank you for your work. It was challenging, and as we say in Spanish, “pasado per agua” (it rained on the parade). It is beautiful, and thank you very much for what you have done.

POPE FRANCIS - inflight interview

Kara David (GMA Network): Good day Holy Father. Sorry, I will speak in English. Thank you very much for visiting our country and for giving so much hope to the Filipinos. We would like you to come back to our country. My question is: the Filipinos have learned a lot from listening to your messages. Is there something the Holy Father has learned from the Filipinos, from your encounter with us?

Pope Francis: The gestures! The gestures moved me. They are not protocol gestures, they are good gestures, felt gestures, gestures of the heart. Some almost make one weep. There’s everything there: faith, love, the family, the illusions, the future. That gesture of the fathers who think of their children so that the Pope will bless them. Not the gesture of one unique father. There were many who thought of their children when we passed by on the road. A gesture which in other places one does not see, as if they say ‘this is my treasure, this is my future, this is my love, for this one it’s worth working, for this one it’s worth suffering’. A gesture that is original, but born from the heart.

A second gesture that struck me very much is an enthusiasm that is not feigned, a joy, a happiness, a capacity to celebrate.  Even under the rain, one of the masters of ceremonies told me that he was edified because those who were serving in Tacloban, under the rain, never lost the smile. It’s the joy,  not feigned joy.  It wasn’t a false smile. No, no!  It was a smile that just came out, and behind that smile there is a normal life, there are pains, problems.

Then there were the gestures of the mothers who brought their sick children. Indeed mothers in general bring them there. But usually mothers did not lift the children up so much, only up to here. The dads do, one sees them. Here dad! Then many disabled children, with disabilities that make some impression; they did not hide the children, they brought them to the Pope so that he would bless them: ‘This is my child, he is this way, but he is mine’.  All mothers know this, they do this. But it’s the way they did this that struck me. The gesture of fatherhood, of motherhood, of enthusiasm, of joy.

There’s a word that’s difficult for us to understand because it has been vulgarized too much, too badly used, too badly understood, but it’s a word that has substance: resignation. A people who knows how to suffer, and is capable of rising up. Yesterday, I was edified at the talk I had with the father of Kristel, the young woman volunteer who died in Tacloban.  He said she died in service, he was seeking words to confirm himself to this situation, to accept it. A people that knows how to suffer, that’s what I saw and how I interpreted the gestures.

Jean Louis de la Vessiere – France Press: Holy Father, you have now gone twice to Asia. The Catholics of Africa have yet to receive a visit from you.  You know that from South Africa to Nigeria to Uganda many faithful who suffer from poverty, war, Islamic fundamentalism, hope you will visit this year. So I would like to ask you, when and where are thinking of going?

Pope Francis: I will respond hypothetically. The plan is to go to the Central African Republic and Uganda, these two, this year. I think that this will be towards the end of the year, because of the weather, no? They have to calculate when there won’t be rains, when there won’t be bad weather. This trip is a bit overdue, because there was the Ebola problem. It is a big responsibility to hold big gatherings, because of the possible contagion, no?  But these countries there is no problem. These two are hypothetical, but it will be this year.

Fr. Lombardi: Now we give the floor to our friend Izzo Salvatore, from the Italian information agency AGI.

Izzo Salvatore: Holy Father, in Manila we were in a very beautiful hotel. Everyone was very nice and we ate very well, but as soon as you left this hotel you were, let's call it morally accosted, at least, by the poverty. We saw children among the trash, treated possibly I would say as trash. Now, I have a son who is six years old and I was ashamed because they were in such poor conditions. I have a son Rocco who has understood very well what you are saying when you say to share with the poor. So on the way to school, he tries to distribute snacks to the beggars in the area. And, for me it's much more difficult. Also for others, adult people it's very difficult. Just one cardinal 40 years ago left everything to go among the lepers – that's Leger (Archbishop Paul-Emile Leger of Montreal, who in 1968 and at the age of 64 resigned from his post to live with lepers, editor’s note) – so, I wanted to know why is it so difficult to follow that example also for the cardinals? I also wanted to ask you something else. It's about Sri Lanka. There we saw all of the "favelas" on the way to the airport, they are shack supported against the tree. They practically live under the trees. Most are Tamils and they are discriminated against. After the massacre of Paris, right after, perhaps rashly, you said there is an isolated terrorism and a state-sponsored terrorism. What did you mean by "state-sponsored terrorism"? It came to my mind when I saw the discrimination and suffering of these people.

Pope Francis: Thanks. Thank you.

Salvatore: One more thing Holy Father, I wanted to tell you that my agency, AGI Italia which is turning 65 years old. So without taking anything away from ANSA, I wanted to let you know that we are working very hard in Asia, because with the tracks that Enrico Mattei left, AGI makes collaborative agreements with modest agencies in Palestine, in Pakistan, in Algeria, in a lot of countries. We also would like your encouragement. There are around 20 agencies that are associated with us in developing countries.

Pope Francis: When one of you asked me what message I was bringing to the Philippines, I said: the poor. Yes, it's a message that Church today gives; also the message that you mention of Sri Lanka, of the Tamils and discrimination, no? The poor, the victims of this throwaway culture. This is true. Today, paper and what's left over isn't all that’s thrown away. We throw away people. And discrimination is a way of throwing away: these people are discarded. And there comes to mind a bit the image of the castes, no? This can't go on. But today, throwing away seems normal. And you spoke of the luxurious hotel and then the shacks. In my diocese of Buenos Aires, there was the new area, which is called Puerto Madero, up to the train station, and then the start of the "Villas Miserias," the poor. One after another. And in this part there are 36 luxurious restaurants. If you eat there, they take off your head. Right there is hunger. One next to the other. And we have the tendency to get used to this, no? To this, that… yes, yes, we're here, and there, are those thrown away. This is poverty.

I think the Church must give examples – always more examples – of refusing every worldliness. To us consecrated, bishops, priests, sisters, laity who truly believe, the gravest sin and the gravest threat is worldliness. It's really ugly to look on when you see a worldly consecrated, a man of the Church, a sister. It's ugly. This is not the way of Jesus. It's the path of an NGO that is called "church" but this isn't the Church of Jesus, that NGO. Because the Church is not an NGO but another thing; when they become worldly, a part of the Church, these people, it becomes an NGO and it ceases to be the Church.

The Church is Jesus, died and risen for our salvation, and the testimony of the Christians that follow Christ. That scandal that you've said is true, yes. Scandal: we Christians often cause scandal. We Christians scandalize. Whether we are priests or laity, because the way of Jesus is difficult. It's true that the Church needs to "be despoiled." But you've made me think about this terrorism of states. This throwing away, even if it is like a terrorism. I hadn't ever thought about it honestly but it makes me think. I don't know what to say to you but truly those are not caresses, truly. It's like saying "no, you no, you out." Or, when it happened here in Rome that a homeless man had a stomach pain. Poor man. When you have stomach pain you go to the hospital into the emergency response unit and they give you an aspirin or something like that and then they give you an appointment for 15 days later, and after 15 days you come. After, he went to a priest and said, "But, no…" And the priest saw and was moved and said, ‘I'll take you to the hospital but I want to do me a favor.  When I start explaining what you have, you act like you're fainting.’ That's how it happened. He was an artist. He did it well. There was a peritonitis. This man was discarded. He went out alone, he was discarded, and he was dying. That parish priest was smart, he helped us well. Stay away from worldliness, right? Is it a terrorism? Well, yes. We can think about this, yes, but I'll think about it well. Thanks, and congratulations to the agency.

Jan Cristoph Kitzler: I would like to return for a minute to the encounter you had with families. You have spoken of ideological colonization. Would you explain a bit more the concept? You also mentioned Paul VI, speaking of the "particular causes" that are important to the pastoral care for families. Can you give an example of these particular cases and maybe say also if there is need to open the way, to have a corridor, for these particular cases?

Pope Francis: Ideological colonization. I'll give just one example that I saw myself. Twenty years ago, in 1995, a minister of education asked for a large loan to build schools for the poor. They gave it to her on the condition that in the schools there would be a book for the children of a certain level, no? It was a schoolbook, a book prepared well, didactically, in which gender theory was taught. This woman needed the money but that was the condition. Clever woman, she said yes and did it again and again and it went ahead like this and that's how it was achieved. This is ideological colonization.

They introduce to the people an idea that has nothing, nothing to do with the nation. Yes, with groups of people, but not with the nation. And they colonize the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure. During the synod, the African bishops complained about this. Which was the same story, certain loans in exchange for certain conditions — I say only these things that I have seen.

Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they take, they really take, they take the need of a people to seize an opportunity to enter and grow strong — with the children. But it is not new, this. The same was done by the dictatorships of the last century. They entered with their own doctrine — think of the Balilla (Mussolini’s fascist youth organization — editor’s note), think of the Hitler Youth. They colonized the people, but they wanted to do it. But how much suffering — peoples must not lose their freedom. Each people has its own culture, its own history. Every people has its own culture. But when conditions come imposed by imperial colonizers, they seek to make these peoples lose their own identity and make a uniformity. This is the globalization of the sphere — all the points are equidistant from the center. And the true globalization — I like to say this — is not the sphere. It is important to globalize, but not like the sphere; rather, like the polyhedron. Namely that each people, every part, conserves its own identity without being ideologically colonized. These are the ideological colonizations.

There is a book, excuse me but I'll make a commercial, there is a book that maybe is a bit heavy at the beginning because it was written in 1903 in London. It is a book that at that time, the writer had seen this drama of ideological colonization and wrote in that book. It is called "The Lord of the Earth," or "The Lord of the World." One of those. The author is Benson, written in 1903. I advise you to read it. Reading it, you'll understand well what I mean by ideological colonization.

This is the first response. The second: What I want to say about Paul VI is that it is true that openness to life is the condition of the sacrament of matrimony. A man cannot give the sacrament to the woman, and the woman give it to him, if they are not in agreement on this point to be open to life. To the point that it can be proven that this or the other did not get married with this intention of being open to life, the matrimony is null. It's a cause of the annulment of the marriage, no? Openness to life, no. Paul VI studied this, with the commission, how to help the many cases, many problems. They are important problems, that are even about love in the family, right? The everyday problems — so many of them.

But there was something more. The refusal of Paul VI was not only to the personal problems, for which he will tell the confessors to be merciful and understand the situation and pardon. Being understanding and merciful, no? But he was watching the universal Neo-Malthusianism that was in progress. And, how do you call this Neo-Malthusianism? There is less than one percent of birth rate growth in Italy. The same in Spain. That Neo-Malthusianism that sought to control humanity on the part of the powers. This doesn't mean that the Christian must make children "in series." I met a woman some months ago in a parish who was pregnant with her eighth child, who had had seven C-sections. But does she want to leave the seven as orphans? This is to tempt God. I speak of responsible paternity. This is the way, a responsible paternity. But, what I wanted to say was that Paul VI was not more antiquated, closed minded. No, he was a prophet who with this said to watch out for the Neo-Malthusianism that is coming. This is what I wanted to say.

Fr. Lombardi: I now give the question to Valentina, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we are now over China — we seem to have now become accustomed to holding press conferences over China, as we did returning from Korea.

Valentina Alazraki: On the flight from Sri Lanka you used the image of the gesture that this poor man (Gasbarri) might have merited if he insulted your mother would have merited a punch. Your words were not well understood by everyone in the world and seemed to justify the use of violence in the face of provocation. Could you explain a little better what you meant to say?

Pope Francis: In theory we can say that a violent reaction in the face of an offense or a provocation, in theory yes, it is not a good thing, one shouldn’t do it. In theory we can say what the Gospel says, that we should turn the other cheek. In theory we can say that we have freedom of expression, and that’s important. But in theory we all agree. But we are human and there’s prudence, which is a virtue of human coexistence. I cannot constantly insult, provoke a person continuously, because I risk making him angry, and I risk receiving an unjust reaction, one that is not just. But that’s human. For this reason I say that freedom of expression must take into account the human reality and for this reason it must be prudent. It’s a way of saying that one must be educated, prudent. Prudence is the human virtue that regulates our relations. I can go up to here,  I can go up to there, and there, beyond that no. What I wanted to say is that in theory we all agree: there is freedom of expression, a violent aggression is not good, it’s always bad. We all agree, but in practice, let us stop a little because we are human and we risk provoking the other. For this reason freedom must be accompanied by prudence. That’s what I wanted to say.

Nicole Winfield, AP: For the English Group, I would like to ask you again about this year’s trip. You already told us that the trip to United States was previewed and mentioned three cities: New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Then, with the canonization of (Fr. Junipero) Serra, we ask if a stop to California is foreseeable, or at the Mexican border. Then, in South America, you told our colleague Elisabetta that three trips in three Latin American countries are previewed. Which are the countries? And do you think to beautify personally Archbishop Romero, who was recently considered a martyr (by the commission of theologians of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, editor's note)?

Pope Francis: I start from the last one. There will be a war between Cardinal Amato and monsignor Paglia (laughs) over which of the two will do the beatification. No, beatifications are normally carried out by the Cardinal of the dicastery (for saints’ causes), or another (bishop).

Let’s go the first question of the United States. Yes, the three cities are Philadelphia, for the Meeting of Families; New York, I have the date already but I can’t remember, for the visit at the U.;N and Washington. It is these three.  I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero, but I think there is a problem of time. It requires two more days. I think that I will do that canonization at the shrine (of the Immaculate Conception) in Washington, it is is a national thing. In Washington, I’m not sure where, there is a statue of Junipero, at the capitol. To enter the USA from the border of Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants. But you know that to go to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna (of Guadalupe) would be a drama. A war could break out (laughing). And also it would mean three more days, and this is not clear. There I think there will only be those three cities. Later there will be time to go to Mexico. Did I forget something? Latin America countries? We have foreseen for this year – everything is still in draft form — Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. These three. Next year, God willing, I would like to go, but nothing is planned yet. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay and Peru are missing there, but we don’t know where to put it.

Father Lombardi: Thank you. We already have quite a precise and wide program of the (Pope’s) travels. Everything is provisional (this is just a draft schedule) – nothing is decided yet.

Carla Lim: Thank you very much for inspiring our country; on behalf of the Filipino people, thank you so much. Please forgive me because I cannot speak Italian. You mentioned, in some of your speeches, about corruption, and corruption takes away the resources from the people. What can your holiness do to fight corruption, not just in the government, but maybe in the Church as well?

Pope Francis: She’s tough, this one, eh? (Inaudible). Corruption today in the world is the order of the day, and the corrupt attitude easily and immediately finds a nest in institutions, because an institution that has so many branches here and there, so many chiefs and vice-chiefs, like that, it’s very easy for it to fall or provide a nest for corruption and every institution can fall into this. Corruption is taking from the people. That corrupt person who does corrupt deals or governs corruptly or associates himself with others in order to do corrupt deals, robs the people. The victims are those — where is he, the one of the anniversary? (he refers to Salvatore Izzo)– they are those who you said were behind the luxury hotel, no? They are the victims of corruption. Corruption is not closed in on itself; it goes out and kills. Do you understand? Today corruption is a worldwide problem.

Once in 2001, more or less, I asked the chief of the cabinet of the president at that time, which was a government that we thought to be not so corrupt, and it was true, it was not so corrupt, the government: “Tell me, the aid that you send into the interior of the country, whether it be in cash or food or clothes, all these things, how much gets to the place.” Immediately this man, who is a true man, clean, said, “35 percent.” That’s what he told me. The year 2001 in my homeland.

And now, corruption in ecclesial institutions. When I speak of the Church I like to speak of the faithful, the baptized, the whole Church, no? In that case, it’s better to speak of sinners. We are all sinners, no? But when we speak of corruption, we speak either of corrupt persons or of institutions in the Church that fall into corruption. And there are cases, yes, there are. I remember once, in the year 1994, when I had been barely named bishop of the Flores quarter of Buenos Aires, two employees or functionaries of a ministry came to me to tell me, “you have so much need here with so many poor in the villas miserias.” “Oh yes,” I said, and I told them. “We can help you. We have, if you want, a subsidy of 400,000 pesos.” At that time, the exchange rate with the dollar was one to one. $400,000. “You can do that?” “Yes, yes.” I listened because, when the offer is so big, the offer challenges even a saint. But they went on: “To do this, we make the deposit and then you give us half for ourselves.” In that moment I thought about what I would do: either I insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn’t shine, or I play the fool. I played the fool and said, in truth, we at the vicariate don’t have an account; you have to make the deposit at the archdiocese’s office with the receipt. And that was it. “Oh, we didn’t know.” And they left. But later I thought, if these two landed without even asking for a runway — it’s a bad thought — it’s because someone else said yes. But it’s a bad thought, no? Does corruption happen easily? Let’s remember this: sinners yes, corrupted no, corrupted never. We must ask pardon for those Catholics, those Christians who scandalize with their corruption. It’s a wound in the Church. But there are so many saints, so many saints. And sinner saints, but not corrupt. Let’s look at the other side, too: the Church is holy. There are some here and there. Thank you for having the courage to ask this question.

Anais Feuga (Radio France): We’ve flying over China. Coming back from Korea, you said you’re ready to go to China tomorrow. In the light of this declaration, can you explain why you didn’t receive the Dalai Lama when he was at Rome a little while ago, and where do relations with China stand?

Pope Francis: Thanks for asking me this question. It’s a habit in the protocol of the Secretariat of State not to receive heads of state and people at that level when they’re taking part in an international meeting here in Rome. For example, for FAO I didn’t receive anyone. That’s the reason he wasn’t received. I saw that some newspapers said I didn’t receive him out of fear of China. That’s not true. At that time, this protocol was the reason. He asked for an audience, and it was said … but a date, a certain point. He asked before, but not for this moment, we are in relation. The motive was not a refusal of a person, or fear of China. Yes, we are open, we want peace with everyone. How do the relations with China stand? The government of China is respectful, we’re respectful, let’s take things one step at a time. That’s how things are done in history, no? We don’t yet know, but they know I’m available either to receive someone, or to go to China. They know. There was another question or not? Thank you.

Marco Ansaldo (La Repubblica): Holy Father, you have done an amazing trip, very rich, full of things, in the Philippines. But I would like to take a step back, because terrorism strikes Christianity, Catholics in many part of the world. We have recently seen it in Niger, but there are many examples. In the last trip we did, coming back from Turkey, you launched an appeal to Islamic leaders, saying that a step, a very firm intervention from them was needed. Now, it does not seem to me that this has been considered and welcomed, despite your words. There are some moderate Islamic countries, I can easily provide the example of Turkey, that have at least an ambiguous attitude toward terrorism – and let’s mention the cases of ISIS and of Charlie Hebdo. I do not know if you had the occasion to reflect and think how to go beyond your invitation over this past one month and a half, since your appeal had not been welcomed and was important. You, or someone on your behalf, I see here Monsignor Becciu or Cardinal Parolin himself, because this problem will keep on questioning us. Thank you.

Pope Francis: I even repeated that appeal to the diplomatic corps on the very day I left for Sri Lanka. In my speech to the diplomatic corps, I said that I hope that — more or less, I don’t remember the exact words – religious, political, academic and intellectual leaders express themselves on the issue. Even the moderate Muslim people ask that of their leaders. Some have done something. I also think that we should give some time: it is not easy, no. I am hopeful, since there are many good people among them, many good leaders, I am sure we will achieve it. But I wanted to underscore that I repeated that on the day I departed from Rome.

Christoph Schmidt: Holy Father, first of all I would like to say: Thank you very much for all the impressive moments of this week. It is the first time I accompany you, and I would like to say thank you very much. My question: you have talked about the many children in the Philippines, about your joy because there are so many children, but according to some polls the majority of Filipinos think that the huge growth of Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the enormous poverty in the country. A Filipino woman gives birth to an average of three children in her life, and the Catholic position concerning contraception seem to be one of the few question on which a big number of people in the Philippines do not agree with the Church. What do you think about that?

Pope Francis: I think the number of three children per family that you mentioned – it makes me suffer- I think it is the number experts say is important to keep the population going. Three per couple. When this decreases, the other extreme happens, like what is happening in Italy. I have heard, I do not know if it is true, that in 2024 there will be no money to pay pensioners because of the fall in population. Therefore, the key word, to give you an answer, and the one the Church uses all the time, and I do too, is responsible parenthood. How do we do this? With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do carry out a responsible parenthood.

That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is an irresponsibility. That woman might say 'no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say 'God knows how to help me' and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.

Elisabetta Pique, La Nacion: Representing the Spanish language group, I have two questions.  This was a moving voyage for everyone. We saw people crying the entire time in Tacloban, even we journalists cried.  Yesterday you said the world needs to cry. We would like to ask you, what was – and it was all very moving – what was for you the most moving moment? That is the first question. The second, yesterday you made history, you surpassed the record set by John Paul II, in the same place, there were 6 or 7 million people. How does it feel to have seen – Cardinal Tagle was telling us that during the Mass in front of the altar you asked him, but how many people are here? How does it feel to have surpassed this record, to have entered into history as the Pope with the Mass with the highest attendance in history?  Thank you.

Pope Francis: The most moving moment: for me, the Mass in Tacloban was very moving. Very moving.  To see all of God’s people standing still, praying, after this catastrophe, thinking of my sins and those people, it was moving, a very moving moment. On the moment of the Mass there, I felt as though I was annihilated, I almost couldn’t speak. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe it was the emotion, I don’t know. But I didn’t feel another thing, it is something.  And then, the moving moments: the gestures were moving. Every gesture.  When I passed and a father would do this (gestures) and I blessed him, he would say thank you. But for them, a blessing was enough. I thought — I who have so many expectations — I want this and I want that. That was good for me, no? Moving moments. After I found out that in Tacloban we landed with winds at 70 kilometres per hour, I took it seriously the warning that we needed to leave no later than one o’clock because there was more danger.

Regarding the great turnout, I felt annihilated.  These were God’s people, and God was present. And the joy of the presence of God which tells us, think on it well, that you are servants of these people, these people are the protagonists. Something like this. The other thing is the weeping. One of the things that is lost when there is too much wealth or when values are misunderstood or we have become accustomed to injustice, to this culture of waste, is the capacity to cry. This is a grace we must ask for. There is a beautiful prayer in the old missal (1962, editor's note) for tears. It went more or less like this: ‘O Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane made water flow from a stone, make it so from the rock that is my heart, that water of tears may flow.’ It’s a beautiful prayer. We Christians must ask for the grace to cry. Especially wealthy Christians. To cry about injustice and to cry about sins. Because crying opens you to understand new realities, or new dimensions to realities.

This is what the girl said, what I said to her. She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer: why do children suffer? The great Dostoyevsky asked himself this, and he could not answer. Why do children suffer?  She, with her weeping, a woman who was weeping. When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the Church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a dicastery — though this would be fine.  No, it’s so that they may tell us tell us how they experience, and view reality. Because women view things from a different richness, a larger one. Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man, who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars – from them.  Because the poor evangelize us. If we take the poor away from the Gospel, we cannot understand Jesus’ message. The poor evangelize us. I go to evangelize the poor, yes, but allow them to evangelize you. Because they have values that you do not.

I thank you very much for your work, I have esteem for it.  Thanks very much.  I know it is a sacrifice for you. Thanks very much. I would like make these thanks concrete towards our dean,  whose birthday it is today (Valentina Alazraki, editor's note). We can’t say how old you are but you’ve worked here since you were a child, as a child, as a child. Best wishes.


Wednesday's AudienceOn the Apostolic Visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines

"It gave us consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift of God."

 VATICAN CITY, January 21, 2015 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address during his weekly General Audience today at the Paul VI Audience Hall.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 Today I will reflect on my apostolic journey last week to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. After my visit to Korea some months ago, I went again to Asia, a continent of rich cultural and spiritual traditions. The trip was above all a joyful encounter with the ecclesial communities that give witness to Christ in those countries: I confirmed them in the faith and in the missionary spirit. I keep ever in my heart the memory of the festive welcome on the part of the crowds – in some cases virtually oceanic --, which accompanied the salient moments of the trip. Moreover, I encouraged interreligious dialogue at the service of peace, as well as the journey of those people towards unity and social development, especially under the leadership of families and young people.

 The culminating moment of my stay in Sri Lanka was the canonization of the great missionary Joseph Vaz. This holy priest administered the Sacraments, often in secret, to the faithful, but helped all those in need without distinction, from every religion and social condition. His example of holiness and love of neighbor continues to inspire the Church in Sri Lanka in her apostolate of charity and education. I pointed out Saint Joseph Vaz as model for all Christians, called today to propose the salvific truth of the Gospel in a multi-religious context, with respect towards others, with perseverance and with humility.

 Sri Lanka is a country of great natural beauty, whose people are seeking to rebuild unity after a long and tragic civil conflict. In my meeting with the government authorities, I stressed the importance of dialogue, of respect for human dignity, of the effort to involve all to find adequate solutions in order to foster reconciliation and the common good.

 The different religions have a significant role to carry out in this regard. My meeting with religious leaders was a confirmation of the good relations that already exists among the various communities. In this context, I wished to encourage the cooperation already underway between the followers of the different religious traditions, also in order to be able to heal with the balm of forgiveness all those still afflicted by the sufferings of the last years. The subject of reconciliation also characterized my visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, much venerated by the Tamil and the Sinhalese and a place of pilgrimage for members of other religions. In that holy place, we asked Mary our Mother to obtain for all the Sri Lankan people the gift of unity and peace.

 From Sri Lanka I left for the Philippines, where the Church is preparing to celebrate the 5th centenary of the arrival of the Gospel. It is the principal Catholic country of Asia, and the Filipino people are well known for their profound faith, their religiosity and their enthusiasm, also in the diaspora. At my meeting with the national authorities, as well as in moments of prayer and during the crowded closing Mass, I stressed the constant ffruitfulness of the Gospel and its capacity to inspire a society worthy of mankind, in which there is a place for the dignity of each one and the aspirations of the Filipino people.

 The main purpose of the visit, and the reason why I decided to go to the Philippines  -- and this was the main reason – was to be able to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who suffered the devastation of typhoon Yolanda. I went to Tacloban, the region most gravely affected, where I rendered tribute to the faith and the capacity of recovery of the local population. At Tacloban, however, the adverse weather conditions caused another innocent victim: the young volunteer Kristel, overwhelmed and killed by a structure swept away by the wind. I then thanked all those who, from all over the world, responded to their need with a generous abundance of aid. The strength of the love of God, revealed in the mystery of the Cross, was rendered evident in the spirit of solidarity demonstrated by the many acts of charity and sacrifice that marked those dark days.

 The meetings with families and young people at Manila, were salient moments of the visit to the Philippines. Healthy families are essential to the life of society. It gave us consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift of God. They know that every child is a gift of God. I heard it said that families with many children and the birth of so many children are among the causes of poverty. It seems to me to be a simplistic opinion. I can say that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from the center and put the god of money there; an economic system that excludes, that always excludes, children, the elderly, the youth, without work…- and that creates the throwaway culture that we live in. Recalling the figure of Saint Joseph, who protected the life of the “Holy Child,” so venerated in that country, I reminded that it is necessary to protect the families that face different threats, so that they can witness the beauty of the family in God’s plan. It is also necessary to defend them from the new ideological colonizations, which attempts threatens their identity and their mission.

 It was a joy for me to be with the young people of the Philippines, to hear their hopes and their concerns. I wished to offer them my encouragement in their efforts to contribute to the renewal of the society, especially through service to the poor and the protection of the natural environment.

 The care of the poor is an essential element of our life and Christian witness. It entails the rejection of every form of corruption that robs the poor and requires a culture of honesty.

  thank the Lord for this pastoral visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. I pray that He will always bless these two countries and confirm the fidelity of Christians to the evangelical message of our redemption, reconciliation and communion in Christ.



 Dear Brothers and Sisters: 

 My recent Apostolic Journey to Sri Lanka and the Philippines was a joy-filled encounter with their Catholic communities.

 In Sri Lanka I canonized Saint Joseph Vaz, a great missionary whose example of charity continues to inspire the faithful in their service to the poor and in respectful relations with the followers of other religions.  Sri Lanka still suffers the effects of a prolonged civil conflict.  In my meeting with religious leaders I asked that we work together as agents of healing, peace and reconciliation. 

 My visit to the Philippines was a sign of solidarity with all those affected by Typhoon Yolanda.  In Tacloban we celebrated our hope in the mercy of God, who does not disappoint.  In Manila I asked families to cherish and protect the family in its fundamental role in society and in God’s plan.  At my meeting with young people, I challenged them to build a society of integrity and compassion for the poor. 

 At the conclusion of my visit, I commended the Filipino people to their patron and protector, the Christ Child, and urged them to persevere in their precious witness to the Gospel on the great continent of Asia.


Pope's Letter to Archdiocese of Palo

"I thank you for your pastoral example of strength and generosity in the service of the Church in Palo."

ROME, February 03, 2015 - Here is the text of the letter sent by Pope Francis to Archbishop John F. Du of Palo regarding his visit to Tacloban during his Apostolic Trip to the Philippines. 

* * * 

To the Most Reverend John F. Du

Archbishop of Palo

Dear brother,

Returning to Rome, I wish to convey with these words my profound gratitude for your hospitality in the Archdiocese of Palo. May the Lord repay you abundantly for your goodness. I thank you too, wholeheartedly, for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of their trials. I will never forget this – may the Lord never permit me to –and I will keep them in my prayers.

I was deeply saddened that the weather warning forced us to anticipate our departure by four hours; this prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the Cathedral later that afternoon. I ask your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at the time.

I thank you for your pastoral example of strength and generosity in the service of the Church in Palo. May the Lord reward you greatly. I also ask you, please to pray for me and to ask those entrusted to your care to do the same.

May the Lord bless you, and the Blessed Virgin protect you always,

Fraternally yours,


From the Vatican, 21 January 2015


Pope's Address at Meeting of Families in Manila
"What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you."

MANILA, January 16, 2015  - Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address at a Meeting with Families at the "Mall of Asia Arena" in Manila, Philippines. 

* * *

The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm. Be attentive, be attentive with the new ideological colonization.

[In Spanish] There is an ideological colonization that we have to be careful of that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have with God from prayer and from the mission that God gives us. It comes outside. And that's why I say it's colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take that mission forward that God has given us. And just as our peoples in a moment in their history were able to say no to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and very strong with fortitude to these initiatives of ideological colonization that could destroy the families and to ask the intercession of St. Joseph, who is a friend of the angel, to know when to say yes and when to say no.

The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. This is the ideological colonization. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

[In Spanish] I think of Blessed Paul VI, in a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life. He knew the difficulties that families experienced and that's why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases. But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem it could cause families in the future.

Paul VI was courageous, he was a good pastor and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching. And from the heavens, he blesses us today.

Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf.Familiaris Consortio, 85). The future passes through the family! So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.

Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52). When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. A family can become a blessing to the world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way of love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.

During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them.

[In Spanish]: I was very moved by the Mass today, when I visited that that home for children who had no parents. How many people in the Church work so that that house can become a home, a family! This is what it means to take forward prophetically the mission of the family.

You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!

Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray today for the families. I do it! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Don’t forget Jesus sleeping, don’t forget Joseph sleeping. Jesus slept under the protection of Joseph. Don’t forget to sleep is the prayer. Don't forget the prayer of the family.

Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please, sleep also for me, pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always!

Thank you very much!

[Original text: English]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana