Pope Francis in Rio for World Youth Day, July 2013 

 

Pope Francis' Condolence Telegram for Death of Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta

VATICAN CITY, July 22, 2013  - Here is the telegram sent by Pope Francis expressing his condolences for Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta, Archbishop emeritus of Bombay, who passed away on Friday. The telegram was sent to the current Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

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To My Venerable Brother

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay

Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Simon Ignatius Pimenta, Archbishop Emeritus of Bombay, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Pimenta’s long years of devoted service to the Catholic community there and his many years of faithful assistance to the successor of Peter as a member of the College of Cardinals, I join you in praying that God our Merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labours and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of the Heavenly Kingdom. To Cardinal Pimenta’s relatives and all assembled for the Solemn Requiem Mass I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Pope's Telegram to President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy

ROME, July 22, 2013  - Here is the translation of the telegram sent by Pope Francis to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, prior to embarking on his first Apostolic visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

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To His Excellency

The Honorable Giorgio Napolitano

President of the Italian Republic

Palazzo del Quirinale

00187 Rome

At the moment in which I set about to leave for Brazil, on the occasion of the World Youth Day, to meet with young people from all over the world and to encourage them to be witnesses of hope and architects of peace, I am pleased to address to you, Mr. President, and to all Italians my cordial greetings which I accompany with the most fervent wishes for serenity and confidence in the future.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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Pope's Address to Journalists Aboard the Papal Flight to Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 23, 2013  - Yesterday morning, in the course of his plane trip to Brazil, on the occasion of the WYD of Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Father Francis met with the journalists aboard the Papal Flight.

The following is a translation of the transcript of the Pope’s conversation with journalists on board the plane, introduced by the Director of the Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi:

Text of the meeting

Father Lombardi: Holy Father Francis, welcome amid this flying community of journalists, and communications agency employees. We are very moved to be accompanying you on your first intercontinental, international trip after having already followed you to Lampedusa with great emotion! Among other things, it is the first trip in your continent, at the ‘end of the world’. It is a trip with young people. Hence, there is great interest. As you can see we have taken up all the available seats for journalists on this flight. We are more than 70 persons, and this group is made up with criteria of great variety, that is, there are representatives of the televisions stations – be it reporters, be it cameramen – there are representatives of the written press, of the press agencies, of radio, operators of the Internet. Hence, practically all the media is represented in a qualified way. And there are also representatives of culture and different languages. We have, on this flight, a good group of Italians, then, of course, there are Brazilians who have come also from Brazil to fly together with you: there are ten Brazilians who came precisely for this. Then there are ten from the United States of America, nine from France, six from Spain; then there are English, Mexicans, Germans; also representatives from Japan, Argentina – of course --, Poland, Portugal and Russia. Hence it is a very varied community. Many of those present often follow the Pope’s trips abroad, therefore it isn’t their first experience, in fact, some have traveled a lot, they know these trips much better than you. For others, instead, it’s the first time because, for instance, the Brazilians follow this trip specifically. So we thought of welcoming you in this group, also with the voice of one of us, or better one of us, who was chosen – I believe without particular problems of concurrence – because she is certainly the person who has made more trips abroad with the Holy Father: and competes with doctor Gasbarri also for the number of trips made. Then, she is a person – among other things – who is a woman; hence it is right that we let her speak. I now give the floor immediately to Valentina Alazraki, who has been the correspondent of Televisa for many years, and yet is always youthful, as you can see and who, among other things, we are happy to have with us because, a few weeks ago, she fractured a foot and we were afraid she would not be able to come. Instead, it was repaired in time, the plaster cast was removed two-three days ago and she is now on the flight. Therefore, it is she who interprets for you the sentiments of our flying community.

Valentina Alazraki: [in Spanish] Pope Francis, good morning! The only merit I have to have the privilege of welcoming you is the very high number of flight hours. I took part in John Paul II’s first flight to Mexico, my country. Then I was the mascot, now I am the dean: 34 and a half years later! It is because of this that I have the privilege of welcoming you. We know from your friends and collaborators in Argentina that journalists are not exactly “saints of your devotion.” Perhaps you thought that Father Lombardi had taken you to the lions’ enclosure. But the truth is that we are not so ferocious and have great pleasure in being able to be your traveling companions. It would please us if you saw us this way, as traveling companions in this and in so many others to come. Obviously we are journalists and if today, tomorrow and in subsequent days you wish to answer questions we won’t say no, because we are journalists. Having seen that you entrusted this trip to Mary, going to Saint Mary Major, you will go to Aparecida, I thought of giving you a small present, a very small pilgrim Virgin, to accompany you on this pilgrimage and on many others yet to come. By chance, it is the Virgin of Guadalupe, but not because she is Queen of Mexico, but because she is the Patroness of America, so that no Virgin will resent her, not that of Argentina, or Aparecida or any other. I give her to you with so much affection on behalf of all of us and with the hope that she will protect you on this trip and in so many others yet to come.

Father Lombardi: And now we give the floor to the Holy Father, of course, so that he can give us at least some words of introduction to this trip.

Pope Francis: Good morning. Good morning to you all. I have heard some strange things said: “You are not saints of my devotion,” “I’m here among lions …” but not so ferocious, ah? Thank you. Truly I don’t give interviews, but why I don’t know, I can’t, it’s so. For me it’s somewhat of an effort to do so, but I’m grateful for this company. This first trip is in fact to meet young people, but to meet them not isolated from their life. I would like to meet them, in fact, in the social fabric, in society. Because when we isolate young people, we do an injustice: we take away their belonging. Young people have a belonging, a belonging to a family, to a homeland, to a culture, to a faith. They have a belonging and we must not isolate them! But, above all, we must not isolate them from the whole of society! They are – truly – the future of a people: this is true! But not only them: they are the future because they have the strength, they are young, they will go forward. But also the other extreme of life, the elderly, are the future of a people. A people has a future if it goes forwards with the two points: with the young, with strength, because they lead it forward; and with the elderly because they are those who give the wisdom of life. And I often think that we do an injustice to the elderly, we leave them aside as if they had nothing to give us; they have wisdom, the wisdom of life, the wisdom of history, the wisdom of the homeland, the wisdom of the family. And we are in need of this! That is why I say that I am going to meet young people, but in their social fabric, mainly with the elderly. It’s true that the global crisis doesn’t do good things for young people. I read last week the percentage of young people without work. Think about the fact that we run the risk of having a generation that has not had work, and from work comes a person’s dignity of earning his bread. At present, young people are in crisis. We are somewhat used to this culture of discarding: it’s done too often with the elderly! But now also with these many young people without work, to them also comes the culture of discarding. We must cut this habit of discarding! No. we must have a> culture of inclusion, a culture of encounter, make an effort to bring everyone into the society. I thank you so much, beloved, “saints of non-devotion” and “not so ferocious lions!” But thank you so much, thank you so much. And I would like to greet each one of you. Thank you.

Father Lombardi: Many thanks, Holiness, for this very expressive introduction. And now all will come to greet you: they will come by here , so that they can come and each one of them can meet you, introduce himself; each one must say from what headline, from what television, newspaper he comes, So the Pope meets and greets him …

Pope Francis: We have ten hours …

The journalists came one by one to meet the Holy Father.

Father Lombardi: Have you all really finished? Yes? Very good. We really thank Pope Francis from our heart because it was, I believe, for all of us an unforgettable moment and I believe that it’s a great introduction to this trip. I think that you have earned somewhat the heart of these “lions,” so that during the trip they will be your collaborators, namely, understand your message and spread it with great efficacy. Thank you, Holiness.

Pope Francis: I truly thank you and ask you to help me and to collaborate in this trip for the good, for the good, the good of society: the good of young people, and the good of the elderly; all and two together, don’t forget! And I remain somewhat as the prophet Daniel: somewhat sad, because I saw the lions weren’t so ferocious! Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I embrace you all! Thank you

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Pope's Address at Welcoming Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 23, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Welcoming Ceremony upon his arrival at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ceremony was held in the Gardens of the Guarnabara Presidential Palace.

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Madam President,
Distinguished Authorities,
Brethren and Friends!

In his loving providence, God willed that the first international trip of my pontificate should take me back to my beloved Latin America, specifically to Brazil, a country proud of its links to the Apostolic See and of its deep sentiments of faith and friendship that have always kept it united in a special way to the Successor of Peter. I am grateful for this divine benevolence.

I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people, it is necessary to pass through its great heart; so let me knock gently at this door. I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you. I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ! I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all: The peace of Christ be with you!

I cordially greet the President and the distinguished members of her government. I thank her for her warm welcome and for the words by which she expressed the joy of all Brazilians at my presence in their country. I also greet the state governor who is hosting us in the government palace, and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, as well as the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the government of Brazil, the other authorities present and all those who worked hard to make my visit here a reality.

I would like to greet affectionately my brother bishops, to whom falls the serious task of guiding God’s flock in this vast country, as well as their beloved local churches. With this visit, I wish to pursue the pastoral mission proper to the Bishop of Rome of confirming my brothers in their faith in Christ, of encouraging them to give an account of the reasons for the hope which comes from him, and of inspiring them to offer everyone the inexhaustible riches of his love.

As you know, the principal reason for my visit to Brazil goes beyond its borders. I have actually come for World Youth Day. I am here to meet young people coming from all over the world, drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer. They want to find a refuge in his embrace, close to his heart, to listen again to his clear and powerful appeal: “Go and make disciples of all nations”.

These young people are from every continent, they speak many languages, they bring with them different cultures, and yet they also find in Christ the answer to their highest aspirations, held in common, and they can satisfy the hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love which binds them together in spite of differences.

Christ offers them space, knowing that there is no force more powerful than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with him. Christ has confidence in young people and entrusts them with the very future of his mission, “Go and make disciples”. Go beyond the confines of what is humanly possible and create a world of brothers and sisters! And young people have confidence in Christ: they are not afraid to risk for him the only life they have, because they know they will not be disappointed.

As I begin my visit to Brazil, I am well aware that, in addressing young people, I am also speaking to their families, their local and national church communities, the societies they come from, and the men and women upon whom this new generation largely depends.

Here it is common for parents to say, “Our children are the apple of our eyes”. What a beautiful expression of Brazilian wisdom this is, applying to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight! What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question.

Listen! Young people are the window through which the future enters the world. They are the window, and so they present us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone. If we can do all this, we anticipate today the future that enters the world through the window of the young.

As I conclude, I ask everyone to show consideration towards each other and, if possible, the sympathy needed to establish friendly dialogue. The arms of the Pope now spread to embrace all of Brazil in its human, cultural and religious complexity and richness. From the Amazon Basin to the pampas, from the dry regions to the Pantanal, from the villages to the great cities, no one is excluded from the Pope’s affection. In two days’ time, God willing, I will remember all of you before Our Lady of Aparecida, invoking her maternal protection on your homes and families. But for now I give all of you my blessing. Thank you for your welcome!

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Greeting to Pope From President of Brazilian Bishops
In Aparecida, You "Are visiting symbolically the whole of Brazil"

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 24, 2013  - Here is a translation of the greeting to the Pope given today by the archbishop of Aparecida and president of the Brazilian episcopal conference, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis.

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Holy Father,

I welcome you with great pleasure to this National Shrine of Our Lady of Conception of Aparecida. Your pastoral visit to the Shrine of the Patroness of Brazil is characterized as an act of devotion to Our Lady. Your Holiness, there are thousands of pilgrims who visit this place blessed by the miraculous image, discovered in the Paraiba river in 1717, and venerated here. Coming on pilgrimage, they demonstrate their filial affection to the Virgin Mary, entrusting to her their needs, their sorrows and their gratitude. However, guided especially by hope, they come here to reinforce their faith and nourish their charity. When the Bishop of Rome, in turn, makes himself a pilgrim of Our Lady, all feel “confirmed in the truth of the faith” by him who “presides in charity over all the Churches,” guiding all, with firm gentleness, on the paths of sanctity.” (cf. Enthronement on the Roman Chair, p. 7).

This Shrine is an important national religious “icon.” On visiting it, we can say that you, Your Holiness, are visiting symbolically the whole of Brazil. It is a pilgrim’s visit, with which Your Holiness wished to entrust to Our Lady the great event of the forthcoming days that is the 28th World Youth Day. We all join in this prayer, so that the meeting of young people with the Successor of Peter will strengthen the faith and love of our young people for Jesus Christ and awaken in them all the missionary ardor that is translated in the Day’s motto: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

This Shrine, which receives you with great jubilation, has, beginning today, the grace of having received three Popes. It was dedicated by Blessed Pope John Paul II on July 4, 1980, and welcomed the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, on May 12-13, 2007, on the occasion of the opening of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the beginning of the celebration of this Solemn Mass, on behalf of the devotees of Our Lady of Aparecida, of this Archdiocese and of the whole of Brazil, I will give Your Holiness a replica of the image of Our Lady Aparecida, carved in wood by an artist of the region. According to scholars, the black color of this image, Holy Father, was probably caused by the river’s mud and the smoke of candles. But it has also been interpreted as a reference to the sufferings of the poor and excluded, especially of black people, in the course of the history of Brazil. To see it in the face of the Immaculate Mother of Our Lord awakens our Church continually to be committed to the poor, and that she also be poor to evangelize. Thus, free, she can serve Our Lord and his Gospel.

Through the image that will be given to Your Holiness, I ask Our Lady, in the name of the Brazilian people, to accompany you and bless your ministry. But we also wish that the thought, the affection and, above all, the prayers of the Pope, accompany the great Brazilian nation, so that, just and fraternal, she develops in peace. And that she accompany the Church in Brazil so that, faithful to her mission of proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to it every day, she will always honor her history of faith and advance, amid the present challenges, confident in the divine presence and protection and in the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, Queen and Patroness of Brazil.

Holy Father, you are very welcome in this Shrine that receives you with affection and filial reverence, as Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the whole Church.

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Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko's Greeting to Youth At Opening Mass of the 28th World Youth Day

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of the welcome greeting given by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, at the Opening Mass of the 28th World Youth Day, held in Copacabana Beach on Tuesday.

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Dear Young People!

Here is the day awaited by you all: the opening of the 28th World Youth Day. Welcome to Rio de Janeiro, welcome to this Brazilian metropolis of extraordinary beauty, dominated by the statue of Christ the Redeemer of the Shrine of Corcovado. In the forthcoming days this city will be the capital of Catholic youth, gathered here from the most remote corners of the planet. After a long and demanding journey of preparation in your parishes and your communities, you are gathered here – a young Church, full of joy of the faith and of missionary outburst!

The words of the Psalmist encourage us: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24). Dear young people, on behalf of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery to which the Holy Father entrusted the organization of the World Youth Day, I give you a cordial welcome and address to you an affectionate greeting. A grateful thought goes to your bishops, priests, men and women religious, as well as to the lay formators who accompanied and guided you on the itinerary of spiritual preparation in view of this great adventure of faith, which we will live together here at Rio during these days. The Lord has so many surprises in store for each one of us! For all of you they will be unforgettable days, days of important discoveries, days of decisive choices for your life!

Rio’s is a particular WYD: after 26 years the World Youth Day returns to Latin America, a young continent, a continent of hope. It is worthwhile to recall the words of Blessed John Paul II addressed to young people during the WYD of Buenos Aires back in 1987: “I wish to repeat to you, once again –as I said to you on the first day of my pontificate – that “you are the hope of the Pope,” “you are the hope of the Church” … Yes, said the Pope, I also wish to repeat with you: “Latin America: be yourself! In your fidelity to Christ, resist those who wish to suffocate your vocation of hope.” 1 Rio’s WYD is particular also because, desired and prepared by Pope Benedict XVI, it will be presided over by Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope. Truly, the ways of the Lord are inscrutable!

This WYD is being held at the feet of the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer of the Corcovado. He is the real protagonist of this event! His heart beats with infinite love for each one of you and his wide open arms are ready to welcome you all! During this WYD, allow yourselves to be embraced by Christ! Entrust to Him your every desire, your plans for the future, your most profound joys; entrust to Him also the most difficult choices you are called to make, your fears and the anxieties that dwell in your young hearts! Youth is, in itself, a huge richness: you have it and you must make it fructify! Entrust it to Christ! Whoever chooses Christ loses nothing, absolutely nothing, but – on the contrary – gains everything and finds true happiness and the fullness of life!

The theme guiding this WYD – as you know – is the missionary mandate that Christ entrusted to his Church: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Matthew 28:19). The mission is the raison d’etre of the Church and of every Christian!

We are all invited to be salt of the earth and light of the world! During this WYD, Christ is calling us to come out of ourselves -- as Pope Francis often says --, he asks us to abandon our comfortable life, to pull down the walls of our egoism, to go with courage to the geographic and existential “peripheries” of the world, taking Christ and his Gospel. During these days, let us make our own the words of Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” ( 1Corinthians 9:16) and let us cry out to the world – as the Holy Father asks us – “it is good to follow Jesus … Jesus’ message is good; it’s good to come out of ourselves, to the peripheries of the world and of existence to take Jesus!” 2

Christ needs you, young people! He needs your young faith, full of joy and missionary enthusiasm! Christ counts on each one of you!

Dear young people of the whole world! Rio’s WYD has begun!

I say again to you all: Welcome to Rio de Janeiro!

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1 John Paul II, Meeting with young people gathered at Buenos Aires for the 1987 World Youth Day, in “Insegnamenti”, X,1 (1987), pp. 1257;1260.

2 Francis, Homily of the celebration of Palm Sunday and of the Lord’s Passion, in “L’Osservatore Romano,” March 25-26 , 2013, p. 8.

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Archbishop Orani Tempesta's Homily at Opening Mass of World Youth Day
This time is to be with the Lord Jesus Christ to live as his disciple

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 24, 2013  - Here is a translation of the homily given by Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro during the Opening Mass for the 28th World Youth Day, which was held at Copacabana Beach on Tuesday.

* * *

Dear Young People!

Distinguished Ecclesiastical, Civil and Military Authorities!

Beloved People of God!

We are beginning the Rio 2013 World Youth Day. Welcome to you all! This wonderful city has become even more beautiful with your presence! A great joy invades us: you are here! You have come from all places of the earth” During these days, this will be for you all your home! You are becoming part of our family at this beautiful and important moment of history!

To all who arrive tired by the delay of the trip or the walk: this time is to be with the Lord Jesus Christ to live as his disciple. This experience of ours will have as a consequence missionary enthusiasm! To go and make disciples!

This archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro has taken on a great responsibility given the choice made by Pope Benedict XVI, today Emeritus, announced at the end of the Mass at Madrid in August of 2011. We thank him for the choice and for his guidelines, for the WYD theme and incentive.

However, providentially, this Day was destined to be a Day that, for the second time, has returned to Latin America after 26 years, being able to be the place of hospitality of the first apostolic journey of the first Latin American Pope in history, Pope Francis, who has come to preside over this beautiful and important moment of the life of the Church in the lands of Saint Sebastian. We will gather solemnly here, in this same place, next Friday. The first Latin American Pope in history stepped, as Supreme Pontiff, on Latin American soil in this Global Shrine of Youth into which this city is transformed these days.

During this week, Rio becomes the center of the Church, alive and young. All roads lead us here. You have come from different parts of the world to share the faith together and the joy of discipleship. That happiness strengthens us and invites us to go to the encounter of the rest of young people, to make ourselves missionaries in all nations. The best present we can give other persons, is the presence of Christ, who fills us and stimulates us to love and give ourselves, always in fraternal dialogue.

We arrive here also after almost two years of pilgrimage of the symbols of the WYD through our country: the young people’s cross and the icon of Our Lady, which will now be present in our principal ceremonies. When those symbols were given to us in Madrid, Spain, in August of 2011, excitement took hold of the young people of our country who received them enthusiastically in their communities during that time.

We have with us, scattered through the city, many relics of Patron Saints and Intercessors of the WYD, recalling that in all times and places of the world we have young people who were sanctified. With us also, are relatives of those persons who are an example of Christian life and pray with us for today’s youth.

The youthful enthusiasm for all the songs demonstrates the face of the young Christian, who tries to unite the testimony of a genuinely Christian life with the social consequences of the Gospel.

We are called to be protagonists of a new world. I am certain that you will do this in your cities and countries. The world needs young people like you!

We have just opened the Gospel in which Jesus calls Matthew to discipleship. And, in calling him, announces that He came precisely so that sinners would experience mercy. He came for us who are among the poor called to obedience of the faith, as Paul says to us in the Letter to the Romans. “We receive the grace of the vocation for the Apostolate, we who were called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, loved by God and saints by vocation.

The First Reading, in fact a Psalm, tells us that our answer must be prompt, saying: I am here! Here I am! Speak as your servant is listening! Then we go to do, with pleasure, the Lord’s will (SI 39/40).

It is this biblical expression that we would like to be on your lips and hearts today and always: Here we are, Lord! Following Matthew’s example, we are also ready for the consequences of our yes to the Lord, full of challenges and joys.

It was His call that united us in that wonderful beach scenario that receives this name because of the initial devotion to Our Lady of Copacabana, under Christ the Redeemer with His welcoming embrace. This sea, sand and beach and multitude make us recall the vocation of other disciples, in addition to Matthew. That scenario reminds us of the boats left on the beach by those who were called by Jesus to follow Him. Today we are also called to follow the Risen Christ.

The Master Jesus invites us to plunge into deep waters, the water of our Baptism. And this lovely international meeting is precisely at the heart of the Year of Faith, propitious time to renew our commitments assumed in the Christian community. We are called to live the faith profoundly in this plural time of so many questions, in the change of age, but with the enthusiasm and coherence of one who allows himself to be led by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on Matthew’s answer to Jesus, we heard that, when we rise to respond positively to the Master, He comes to dwell in our house and transforms our life. For Samuel, in the First Reading, the call seemed a dream, but with the help of a companion he was able to discern that it was God’s voice, it was real. The missionary path calls for discernment, utopia, dream, but also help from someone close to us who can help us to recognize the voice of God. Like Paul, we are servants of Christ, apostles by vocation and chosen for the Gospel of God!

Dear young people, our Archdiocese felt called by God to receive you. Thus we all respond like Samuel, Paul and Matthew: We are here! Here we are! Our parishes, families, schools, pastorals, associations, movements, service groups. Our homes are your homes! There is a revolution of love at this moment: the other is Christ for us! The other is our brother! May that resound throughout the world! We are called to live building a world of brothers! We want each and all to feel received in Christ’s embrace, who calls everyone to be with Him in the building of the Kingdom of God. Will we go together?

Christ invites us: come, my friends! We go with Him in the footprints of the Successor of Peter, of the Vicar of the Redeemer pilgrimaging through this Rio, sowing fraternity wherever we go, that we may be heralds of peace and concord, crying out to the world to live the holiness that springs from the Redeemer of Men.

And, around the Master, together with other young disciples from all corners of the earth, we will say “Lord, it is well that we are here” (Matthew 17:4).

Go through this city, witness Jesus Christ, commit yourselves to the new world, infect everyone with the joy and peace of Christ, as morning watchmen, working in the renewal of the world in the light of God’s plan.

We live this intense time of pilgrimage because Jesus Christ is alive in our midst, He gives us His Holy Spirit, and we are called to live this reality and to transmit it to others in an accessible and comprehensible way. Jesus Christ is always present, above all for young people who seek truth, justice and peace – and you can find these in Jesus Christ.

You, dear young people, are the promising present of a society that hopes that its crisis of values has a solution. You are called to be a new generation that lives the faith and to transmit it to the next generation. We are invited to an experience of faith and to come out of it reinvigorated! Participation in the community with enthusiasm will be the opportunity to -- by living with other brothers and sisters -- , testify that another world is possible! The first pilgrim, who is already among us, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has placed himself with us on this journey and will indicate the paths during these days.

Dear young people: do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ!

We have many barriers and injustices to surmount. We are going to build bridges instead of walls and obstacles. The whole world, through you, present in this city, needs the testimony of solidarity, sharing and acceptance of the love of Christ the Redeemer. It is the time to awaken confidence and hope that will be transformed into attitudes for a tomorrow of light.

Mary -- of so many names and invocations, is invoked here in Brazil with the title of Our Lady Aparecida as principal patroness, but also Our Lady of the Rock, Our Lady of Nazareth --, was and continues to be the companion and Mother of all young people. We entrust each one of you to her, so that, receiving Christ whom she presents to us, you will walk through the world as missionary disciples of the New Evangelization, being protagonists of a new world, as morning watchmen awakening the hope of a new dawn: Christ resurrected and goes before us! The Holy Spirit will illumine our life and will give us lights so that we understand our mission of how to lead people to the Father.

Today, on beginning the Day, Christ the Redeemer says to us: ”Come, my friends!” During the Day we will learn to say “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”! And we will hear increasingly the Lord saying to us: “Be missionaries.” “Go and make disciples of all nations”! And we will all respond: “Here we are, Lord, send us!”

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Pope's Homily at National Shrine of Our Lady of Conception in Aparecida

APARECIDA, BRAZIL, July 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of the homily given by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated this morning at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Conception in Aparecida.

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My Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What joy I feel as I come to the house of the Mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida! The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry as the Successor of Peter to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America.

There is something that I would like to say first of all. Six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in this Shrine. Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand. I saw how the Bishops – who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission – felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady. That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the Bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary’s maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother’s door and asks: "Show us Jesus". It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.

1. Hopefulness. The second reading of the Mass presents a dramatic scene: a woman – an image of Mary and the Church – is being pursued by a Dragon – the devil – who wants to devour her child. But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child (cf. Rev 12:13a, 15-16a). How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The "dragon", evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith.

2. The second attitude: openness to being surprised by God. Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope – the great hope which faith gives us – knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaíba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother? God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him.

3. The third attitude: living in joy. Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3). Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will "light up" with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said: "the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future" (Inaugural Address, Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Aparecida, 13 May 2007, 3).

Dear friends, we have come to knock at the door of Mary’s house. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to "do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). Yes, dear Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God’s surprises and full of joy. Amen.

[Original text: Portuguese]

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Pope Francis' Address in the Neighborhood of Varginha in the Manguinhos Favela

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Pope's address during his visit to the Neighborhood of Varginha in the Manguinhos Favela.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is wonderful to be here with you! From the start, my wish in planning this visit to Brazil was to be able to visit every district throughout the nation. I would have liked to knock on every door, to say good morning, to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho, to speak as one would to family friends, to listen to each person pouring out his or her heart parents, children, grandparents ... But Brazil is so vast! It is impossible to knock on every door! So I chose to come here, to visit your community, which today stands for every district in Brazil. How wonderful it is to be welcomed with such love, generosity, and joy! One need only look at the way you have decorated the streets of the community; this is a further mark of affection, it comes from your heart, from the heart of all Brazilians in festive mood. Many thanks to each of you for this kind welcome! And I thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta as well as Rangler and Joana for their kind words.

1. From the moment I first set foot on Brazilian soil, right up to this meeting here with you, I have been made to feel welcome. And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration. I say this because when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them some food, a place in our homes, our time not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always add more water to the beans! And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!
And the Brazilian people, particularly the humblest among you, can offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: it is the culture of solidarity that does so, seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters.

I would like to encourage the efforts that Brazilian society is making to integrate all its members, including those who suffer most and are in greatest need, through the fight against hunger and deprivation. No amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself. A society of that kind simply impoverishes itself, it loses something essential. Let us always remember this: only when we are able to share do we become truly rich; everything that is shared is multiplied! The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!

2. I would also like to tell you that the Church, the advocate of justice and defender of the poor in the face of intolerable social and economic inequalities which cry to heaven (Aparecida Document, 395), wishes to offer her support for every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person. Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.

3. I would like to add one final point. Here, as in the whole of Brazil, there are many young people. Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good. To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).

Today, to all of you, especially to the residents of this Community of Varginha, I say: you are not alone, the Church is with you, the Pope is with you. I carry each of you in my heart and I make my own the intentions that you carry deep within you: thanksgiving for joys, pleas for help in times of difficulty, a desire for consolation in times of grief and suffering. I entrust all this to the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, Mother of all the poor of Brazil, and with great affection I impart my blessing.

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Vatican Spokesman: Pope's Visit to Aparecida a "Very Important Moment"
Pontiff Tells Pilgrims He Will Return in 2017 for Aparecida Anniversary

By Junno Arocho Esteves

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013  - In a briefing with journalists at the WYD Media Center in Brazil, Fr. Federico Lombardi director of the Holy See Press Office described the Pope’s visit to the Shrine of Aparecida as a “very important moment”.

While reminding those present that the Holy Father’s predecessors also made similar visits to Marian shrines, Fr. Lombardi said that the visit to Aparecida was a continuation of the Marian devotions of the Popes.

“In Aparecida, for Pope Francis, there is a singular importance for him as well as the Conference of Bishops that were present there,” Fr. Lombardi said. “This pilgrimage was also meant as a consecration of the Pope for World Youth Day.”

Regarding the Mass, the Vatican spokesman stated that over 200,000 faithful were present inside and outside the Basilica. There were also thousands lined up on the streets leading to the Shrine. Also present at the celebration was an ecumenical delegation that included Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox Church representatives.

Fr. Lombardi also recalled the joy felt by many pilgrims after the Holy Father ended his address from the balcony saying, “I will see you again in 2017”.

“As you know, it will be the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Madonna [of Aparecida],” Fr. Lombardi said. “Now, all are hoping that the that the Holy Father will return in 2017 for the anniversary.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father visited the Bom Jesus Seminary where he blessed a statue of St. Frei Calvao who was canonized by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2007. He then had lunch with the seminarians and greeted various groups, including a group of nuns who, Fr. Lombardi noted, were extremely excited to see the Pope and have their picture taken with him. “Towards the end, when the Pope was ending the meeting, he told them, ‘I feel like I am Daniel in the lion’s den,’ Fr. Lombardi recalled.

Pope Francis also met with a group of police officers and other groups that had the opportunity to have their picture taken with him.

“The Pope did not rest at all, he dedicated his whole time in greeting these different groups. This is striking; the energy he has for the total continuity to his commitments,” the Vatican spokesman noted.

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Pope Francis' Address at Sao Francisco De Assis Na Providencia Hospital

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 25, 2013  - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis during his visit to the São Francisco De Assis Na Providência Hospital, which assists drug addicts and alcoholics and offers free medical care to the poor.

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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Dear Archbishop Tempesta,
brother Bishops,
Distinguished Authorities,
Members of the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Penance,
Doctors, Nurses, and Health Care Workers,
Dear Young People and Family Members,

God has willed that my journey, after the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, should take me to a particular shrine of human suffering the Saint Francis of Assisi Hospital. The conversion of your patron saint is well known: the young Francis abandoned the riches and comfort of the world in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world material things and the possession of them but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others. Less well known, perhaps, is the moment when this understanding took concrete form in his own life. It was when Francis embraced a leper. This brother, suffering and an outcast, was the mediator of light ... for Saint Francis of Assisi (Lumen Fidei, 57), because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ. Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope.

To embrace we all have to learn to embrace the one in need, as Saint Francis did. There are so many situations in Brazil, and throughout the world, that require attention, care and love, like the fight against chemical dependency. Often, instead, it is selfishness that prevails in our society. How many dealers of death there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage. A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America. Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love.

To embrace someone is not enough, however. We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: You can get up, you can stand up. It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to. Dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on our journey: You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensible condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! The Church and so many people are close to you. Look ahead with confidence. Yours is a long and difficult journey, but look ahead, there is a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives (Lumen Fidei, 57). To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!

In the Gospel, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, that speaks of a man assaulted by robbers and left half dead at the side of the road. People pass by him and look at him. But they do not stop, they just continue on their journey, indifferent to him: it is none of their business! Only a Samaritan, a stranger, sees him, stops, lifts him up, takes him by the hand, and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:29-35). Dear friends, I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is no apathy, but love. The Saint Francis Association and the Network for the Treatment of Drug Addiction show how to reach out to those in difficulty because in them we see the face of Christ, because in these persons, the flesh of Christ suffers. Thanks are due to all the medical professionals and their associates who work here. Your service is precious; undertake it always with love. It is a service given to Christ present in our brothers and sisters. As Jesus says to us: As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25:40).

And I wish to repeat to all of you who struggle against drug addiction, and to those family members who share in your difficulties: the Church is not distant from your troubles, but accompanies you with affection. The Lord is near you and he takes you by the hand. Look to him in your most difficult moments and he will give you consolation and hope. And trust in the maternal love of his Mother Mary. This morning, in the Shrine of Aparecida, I entrusted each of you to her heart. Where there is a cross to carry, she, our Mother, is always there with us. I leave you in her hands, while with great affection I bless all of you.

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Pope's Telegram to Victims of Train Accident in Spain

ROME, July 25, 2013  - Here is the translation of the telegram sent by Pope Francis to Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela regarding the tragic train accident that killed 78 people.

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Telegram to MONS. JULIÁN BARRIO BARRIO
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Having been informed of the very serious railway accident that occurred near Santiago de Compostela, that caused many victims and many wounded, I have been deeply distressed and have raised a fervent pray to the Lord for all those who have died and those who are victims of this tragic event.

Filled with deep pain, I ask your Excellency to please let those who have suffered know of my closeness to the their families, my fraternal affection and my personal solidarity, assuring them of suffrages for the deceased and a complete and total recovery for all those who have been so terribly distressed.

On this day when the Church entrusts herself to the intercession of James the Apostle, heavenly patron of Spain and Witness of the Risen Christ, together with my epxressions of encouragement for all the children of this noble land, I cordially impart a special Apostolic blessing that comes from faith and is a bearer of consolation that offers true love.

Francis. PP.

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Angelus    On the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Address given by the Holy Father at the residence of the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro to pray the Angelus prayer for the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Mother of God and the grandparents of Jesus. It is also Grandparents Day in Brazil and around the world.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Friends,

I give thanks to Divine Providence for bringing me here to the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Orani Tempesta and to each of you for your warm welcome, which demonstrates your affection for the Successor of Peter. I would be happy if my visit to this city were to renew, in each one of you, your love for Christ and his Church and your joy in being one with him, belonging to the Church and being committed to offering a living witness to the faith.

The Angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day. It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities: in the morning, at midday, and at sunset. But it is an important prayer. I encourage each of you to recite it, along with the Hail Mary. It reminds us of a luminous event which transformed history: the Incarnation, the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth.

Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, "Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives" (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom.

And now, in this Square, in all the surrounding streets, and in those homes that are experiencing this moment of prayer with us, we feel like one big family, and we turn to Mary, that she may protect our families and make them places of faith and love in which the presence of Jesus her Son is felt.

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Pope's Homily During World Youth Day Prayer Service in Copacabana

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily during a prayer service held during the Welcoming Ceremony of the 28th World Youth Day in Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Friends,

“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).

But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.

“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.

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Pope Francis' Welcoming Address in Copacabana

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the address given by Pope Francis during the welcoming ceremony of the 28th World Youth Day which was held in Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Young Friends,
Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.

This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends. The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith!

I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!


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Pope's Homily at Closing Mass of World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013  - Here is the translation of the homily given by Pope Francis at the Closing Mass of the 28th World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

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Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And at this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to theYouth Ministery groups, to the Movements and the new Communities that accompany the young people in their experience of being Church. They are so creative, so audacious. Carry on and do not be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Follow these three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen.

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Pope's Address at Prayer Vigil in Copacabana Beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address at last night's Prayer Vigil at Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Young Friends,

We have just recalled the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my house”. The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord’s call to rebuild his house. But which house? Slowly but surely, Francis came to realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her.

Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. How? In what way? Well, I think we can learn something from what happened in these days: as we had to cancel due to bad weather, the realization of this vigil on the campus Fidei, in Guaratiba. Lord willing might we say that the real area of ​​faith, the true campus fidei, is not a geographical place - but we, ourselves? Yes! Each of us, each one of you. And missionary discipleship means to recognize that we are God’s campus fidei, His “field of faith”! Therefore, from the image of the field of faith, starting with the name of the place, Campus Fidei, the field of faith, I have thought of three images that can help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary. First, a field is a place for sowing seeds; second, a field is a training ground; and third, a field is a construction site.

1. A field is a place for sowing seeds. We all know the parable where Jesus speaks of a sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on good soil and brought forth much fruit (cf. Mt 13:1-9). Jesus himself explains the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts (cf. Mt 13:18-23). This, dear young people, means that the real Campus Fidei, the field of faith, is your own heart, it is your life. It is your life that Jesus wants to enter with his word, with his presence. Please, let Christ and his word enter your life, blossom and grow.

Jesus tells us that the seed which fell on the path or on the rocky ground or among the thorns bore no fruit. What kind of ground are we? What kind of terrain do we want to be? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in us (cf. Mt 13:18-22). But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not “starchy” and superficial, but real. I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives meaningful. Jesus is capable of letting you do this: he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Let’s trust in him. Let’s make him our guide!

2. A field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to “play on his team”. I think that most of you love sports! Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion. Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. Saint Paul tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to train, “to get in shape”, so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith. How do we get in shape? By talking with him: by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always listens to us. By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized. Dear young people, be true “athletes of Christ”!

3. A field is a construction site. When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when “we build up a sweat” in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Saint Peter tells us that we are living stones, which form a spiritual edifice (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). Looking at this platform, we see that it is in the shape of a church, built up with stones and bricks. In the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up his Church, but not as a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone! To me, to you, to each of us he says: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Tonight, let us answer him: Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we want to build up the Church of Jesus! Let us all say together: I want to go forth and build up the Church of Christ!

In your young hearts, you have a desire to build a better world. I have been closely following the news reports of the many young people who throughout the world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more just and fraternal society - (and here in Brazil), they have gone out into the streets to express a desire for a more just and fraternal civilization. These are young people who want to be agents of change. I encourage them, in an orderly, peaceful and responsible manner, motivated by the values of the Gospel, to continue overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to social and political concerns present in their countries. But the question remains: Where do we start? What are the criteria for building a more just society? Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked what needed to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I!

Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!

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Pope's Address to Argentinian Youth

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the youth from Argentina gathered in Rio for World Youth Day.

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Thank you, thank you for being here today. Thank you to those who are inside, and many thanks to those who are outside, to the 30,000 I’m told are outside. I greet you from here! You are under the rain. Thank you for the gesture of coming, for having come to the Youth Day.

I asked Doctor Gasbarri, who is the one in charge of things, who organizes the trip, if there was a small place to meet with you, and by midday he had everything arranged. So I want to thank Doctor Gasbarri publicly, for what he has succeeded in doing today.

I would like to say something. What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in in ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out! If they don’t go out, they become NGOs, and the Church can’t be an NGO.

May the Bishops and priests forgive me, if one of them afterwards has a row with you, but it is my advice. Thank you for what you can do. Look, I think that at this moment, this global civilization has gone too far, has gone too far! Because the worship of the god-money is such, that we are witnessing a philosophy and praxis of exclusion of the two poles of life which are the promises of the nations. And of course, because one could think that there might be a sort of hidden euthanasia, namely, that the elderly are not looked after. But there is also a cultural euthanasia: they are not allowed to speak; they are not allowed to act! And <then there is> the exclusion of young people: the percentage that exists of young people without work, unemployed, is very high! And it is a generation that doesn’t have the experience of the dignity earned by work. <In other words>, this civilization has led us to exclude the two extremes that are our future!

So, young people must go out, they must show their worth. Young people must go out to fight for values, to fight for values! And oldsters must open their mouth; the elderly must open their mouth and teach us, transmitting to us the wisdom of the nations. In the Argentine Nation, I ask this from my heart of the elderly: do not shirk your duty to be the cultural reserve of our people, which transmits justice, which transmits history, which transmits values, which transmits the memory of the Nation. And you, please, don’t have it in for the elderly! Let them speak, listen to them, and go forward! But know, know that at this moment you, the young and the old, are condemned to the same destiny: exclusion! Don’t let yourselves be excluded! Is that clear? That’s why I think you have to work.

And faith in Jesus Christ isn’t a joke, it’s something very serious, it’s a scandal. That God came to make Himself one of us is a scandal! And that He died on the Cross is a scandal, the scandal of the Cross. The Cross continues to be a scandal, but the Cross is the only sure way, Jesus is the only sure way, Jesus’ Incarnation!

Please, don’t liquefy faith in Jesus Christ! There is orange milk shake, apple milk shake, banana milkshake, but please, don’t take liquefied faith! The faith is whole, it’s not to be liquefied. It is faith in Jesus. It is faith in the Son of God made man, who loved me and died for me.

So, have a row! Look after the extremes of the Nation which are the elderly and young people! Don’t let yourselves be excluded and don’t let the elderly be excluded; secondly, don’t liquefy faith in Jesus Christ.

The Beatitudes! What do we have to do, Father? Look, read the Beatitudes which will do you good, and if you want to know what practical thing you must do, read Matthew 25, which is the protocol with which we will be judged. With those two things you have the program of action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. You don’t need to read anything else. I ask this of you from the depth of my heart!

Well, I already thank you for this closeness, I’m sorry that you are caged, but I’ll tell you one thing. At times I feel how awful it is to be caged! I tell you this from my heart. O well, I understand you! I would have liked to be closer to you, but I understand that for reasons of order, it’s not possible.

Thank you for coming, thank you for praying for me, I ask this from my heart, I need it! I need your prayers, I need much prayer! Thank you for that!

Well, I will give you my blessing and afterwards we will bless the image of the Virgin and the Cross of Saint Francis, which will go on mission throughout the Republic.

But don’t forget. Have a row! Take care of the two extremes of life, the two extremes of the history of Nations, which are the elderly and the young! And don’t liquefy the faith!

And now we are going to pray to bless the image of the Virgin and then give you my blessing.

We stand for the blessing, but before I want to thank Monsignor Arancedo for what he said, that out of pure rudeness, I didn’t thank him for, so thank you for your words.

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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Lord, you left your Mother in our midst so that she would accompany us.

May she take care of us, protect us on our way, in our heart, in our faith.

May she make us disciples, as she was, and missionaries, as she also was.

May she teach us to go out to the street, may she teach us to come out of ourselves.

We bless this Image, Lord, which is going to go around the country.

May she, with her gentleness, with her peace, point out the way to us.

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Lord, you are a scandal, the scandal of the Cross,

a Cross that is humility, meekness, a Cross that speaks to us of God’s closeness.

We also bless this image of the Cross which will go around the country.

Thank you very much and we will see one another in these days!

May God bless you and pray for me. Don’t forget!

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Francis' Address to Bishops
"More than a formal address, I would like to share some reflections with you"

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Here is a Vatican translation of Pope Francis' address today to the bishops of Brazil.

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Dear Brothers,

How good it is to be here with you, the Bishops of Brazil!

Thank you for coming, and please allow me to speak with you as one among friends. That’s why I prefer to speak to you in Spanish, so as to express better what I carry in my heart. I ask you to forgive me.
We are meeting somewhat apart, in this place prepared by our brother, Archbishop Orani Tempesta, so that we can be alone and speak to one another from the heart, as pastors to whom God has entrusted his flock. On the streets of Rio, young people from all over the world and countless others await us, needing to be reached by the merciful gaze of Christ the Good Shepherd, whom we are called to make present. So let us enjoy this moment of repose, exchange of ideas and authentic fraternity.

Beginning with the President of the Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, I want to embrace each and every one of you, and in a particular way the Emeritus Bishops. More than a formal address, I would like to share some reflections with you.

The first came to mind when I visited the shrine of Aparecida. There, at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception, I prayed for you, your Churches, your priests, men and women religious, seminarians, laity and their families and, in a particular way, the young people and the elderly: these last are the hope of a nation; the young, because they bring strength, idealism and hope for the future; the elderly because they represent the memory, the wisdom of the people.1

1. Aparecida: a key for interpreting the Church’s mission In Aparecida God gave Brazil his own Mother. But in Aparecida God also offered a lesson about himself, about his way of being and acting. A lesson about the humility which is one of God’s essential features, part of God’s DNA. Aparecida offers us a perennial teaching about God and about the Church; a teaching which neither the Church in Brazil nor the nation itself must forget.

At the beginning of the Aparecida event, there were poor fishermen looking for food. So much hunger and so few resources. People always need bread. People always start with their needs, even today.
They have a dilapidated, ill-fitted boat; their nets are old and perhaps torn, insufficient.
First comes the effort, perhaps the weariness, of the catch, yet the results are negligible: a failure, time wasted. For all their work, the nets are empty.

Then, when God wills it, he mysteriously enters the scene. The waters are deep and yet they always conceal the possibility of a revelation of God. He appeared out of the blue, perhaps when he was no longer expected. The patience of those who await him is always tested. And God arrived in a novel fashion, since he can always reinvent himself: as a fragile clay statue, darkened by the waters of the river and aged by the passage of time. God always enters clothed in poverty, littleness.

Then there is the statue itself of the Immaculate Conception. First, the body appeared, then the head, then the head was joined to the body: unity. What had been broken is restored and becomes one. Colonial Brazil had been divided by the shameful wall of slavery. Our Lady of Aparecida appears with a black face, first separated, and then united in the hands of the fishermen.

Here there is an enduring message which God wants to teach us. His own beauty, reflected in his Mother conceived without original sin, emerges from the darkness of the river. In Aparecida, from the beginning, God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided. Walls, chasms, differences which still exist today are destined to disappear. The Church cannot neglect this lesson: she is called to be a means of reconciliation.

The fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the stones of a mosaic, which we encounter, which we see. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait.
Then the fishermen bring the mystery home. Ordinary people always have room to take in the mystery. Perhaps we have reduced our way of speaking about mystery to rational explanations; but for ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart. In the homes of the poor, God always finds a place.
The fishermen “bundle up” the mystery, they clothe the Virgin drawn from the waters as if she were cold and needed to be warmed. God asks for shelter in the warmest part of ourselves: our heart. God himself releases the heat we need, but first he enters like a shrewd beggar. The fishermen wrap the mystery of the Virgin with the lowly mantle of their faith. They call their neighbours to see its rediscovered beauty; they all gather around and relate their troubles in its presence and they entrust their causes to it. In this way they enable God’s plan to be accomplished: first comes one grace, then another; one grace leads to another; one grace prepares for another. God gradually unfolds the mysterious humility of his power.

There is much we can learn from the approach of the fishermen. About a Church which makes room for God’s mystery; a Church which harbours that mystery in such a way that it can entice people, attract them. Only the beauty of God can attract. God’s way is through enticement, allure. God lets himself be brought home. He awakens in us a desire to keep him and his life in our homes, in our hearts. He reawakens in us a desire to call our neighbours in order to make known his beauty. Mission is born precisely from this divine allure, by this amazement born of encounter. We speak about mission, about a missionary Church. I think of those fishermen calling their neighbours to see the mystery of the Virgin. Without the simplicity of their approach, our mission is doomed to failure.

The Church needs constantly to relearn the lesson of Aparecida; she must not lose sight of it. The Church’s nets are weak, perhaps patched; the Church’s barque is not as powerful as the great transatlantic liners which cross the ocean. And yet God wants to be seen precisely through our resources, scanty resources, because he is always the one who acts.

Dear brothers, the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love. To be sure, perseverance, effort, hard work, planning and organization all have their place, but first and foremost we need to realize that the Church’s power does not reside in herself; it is hidden in the deep waters of God, into which she is called to cast her nets.
Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery. Not only does she herself remain outside the door of the mystery, but she proves incapable of approaching those who look to the Church for something which they themselves cannot provide, namely, God himself. At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible “to fish” for God in the deep waters of his Mystery.

A final thought: Aparecida took place at a crossroads. The road which linked Rio, the capital, with Sa~o Paulo, the resourceful province then being born, and Minas Gerais, the mines coveted by the courts of Europe, was a major intersection in colonial Brazil. God appears at the crossroads. The Church in Brazil cannot forget this calling which was present from the moment of her birth: to be a beating heart, to gather and to spread.

2. Appreciation for the path taken by the Church in Brazil The Bishops of Rome have always had a special place in their heart for Brazil and its Church. A marvellous journey has been accomplished. From twelve dioceses during the First Vatican Council, it now numbers 275 circumscriptions. This was not the expansion of an organization or a business enterprise, but rather the dynamism of the Gospel story of the “five loaves and two fish” which, through the bounty of the Father and through tireless labour, bore abundant fruit.

Today I would like to acknowledge your unsparing work as pastors in your local Churches. I think of Bishops in the forests, travelling up and down rivers, in semiarid places, in the Pantanal, in the pampas, in the urban jungles of your sprawling cities. Always love your flock with complete devotion! I also think of all those names and faces which have indelibly marked the journey of the Church in Brazil, making palpable the Lord’s immense bounty towards this Church.2

The Bishops of Rome were never distant; they followed, encouraged and supported this journey. In recent decades, Blessed John XXIII urged the Brazilian Bishops to draw up their first pastoral plan and, from that beginning a genuine pastoral tradition arose in Brazil, one which prevented the Church from drifting and provided it with a sure compass. The Servant of God Paul VI encouraged the reception of the Second Vatican Council not only in fidelity but also in creativity (cf. the CELAM General Assembly in Medellin), and decisively influenced the self-identity of the Church in Brazil through the Synod on evangelization and that basic point of reference which is the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Blessed John Paul II visited Brazil three times, going up and down the country, from north to south, emphasizing the Church’s pastoral mission, communion and participation, preparation for the Great Jubilee and the new evangelization. Benedict XVI chose Aparecida as the site of the Fifth CELAM General Assembly and this left a profound mark on the Church of the whole continent. The Church in Brazil welcomed and creatively applied the Second Vatican Council, and the course it has taken, though needing to overcome some teething problems, has led to a Church gradually more mature, open, generous and missionary.

Today, times have changed. As the Aparecida document nicely put it: ours is not an age of change, but a change of age. So today we urgently need to keep putting the question: what is it that God is asking of us? I would now like to sketch a few ideas by way of a response.

3. The icon of Emmaus as a key for interpreting the present and the future Before all else, we must not yield to the fear once expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman: “... the Christian world is gradually becoming barren and effete, as land which has been worked out and is become sand”.3

We must not yield to disillusionment, discouragement and complaint. We have laboured greatly and, at times, we see what appear to be failures. We feel like those who must tally up a losing season as we consider those who have left us or no longer consider us credible or relevant. Let us read once again, in this light, the story of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-15). The two disciples have left Jerusalem. They are leaving behind the “nakedness” of God. They are scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day (vv. 17-21). Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.4 It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.
Faced with this situation, what are we to do?

We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

A relentless process of globalization, an often uncontrolled process of urbanization, have promised great things. Many people have been captivated by the potential of globalization, which of course does contain positive elements. But many also completely overlook its darker side: the loss of a sense of life’s meaning, personal dissolution, a loss of the experience of belonging to any “nest” whatsoever, subtle but relentless violence, the inner fragmentation and breakup of families, loneliness and abandonment, divisions, and the inability to love, to forgive, to understand, the inner poison which makes life a hell, the need for affection because of feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness, the failed attempt to find an answer in drugs, alcohol, and sex, which only become further prisons.

Many, too, have sought shortcuts, for the standards set by Mother Church seem to be asking too much. Many people think: “the Church’s idea of man is too lofty for me, the ideal of life which she proposes is beyond my abilities, the goal she sets is unattainable, beyond my reach. Nonetheless – they continue – I cannot live without having at least something, even a poor imitation, of what is too lofty for me, what I cannot afford. With disappointed hearts, they then go off in search of someone who will lead them even further astray.

The great sense of abandonment and solitude, of not even belonging to oneself, which often results from this situation, is too painful to hide. Some kind of release is necessary. There is always the option of complaining: however did we get to this point? But even complaint acts like a boomerang; it comes back and ends up increasing one’s unhappiness. Few people are still capable of hearing the voice of pain; the best we can do is to anaesthetize it.

Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the “night” contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realizes that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture.

I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts? A Church capable of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles... Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?
Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster.
But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere? beauty?

Do we know anything more powerful than the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and people today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness. Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble? Or is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency? Dear brothers, let us recover the calm to be able to walk at the same pace as our pilgrims, keeping alongside them, remaining close to them, enabling them to speak of the disappointments present in their hearts and to let us address them. They want to forget Jerusalem, where they have their sources, but eventually they will experience thirst. We need a Church capable of accompanying them on the road back to Jerusalem! A Church capable of helping them to rediscover the glorious and joyful things that are spoken of Jerusalem, and to understand that she is my Mother, our Mother, and that we are not orphans! We were born in her. Where is our Jerusalem, where were we born? In Baptism, in the first encounter of love, in our calling, in vocation.5

We need a Church capable of restoring citizenship to her many children who are journeying, as it were, in an exodus.

4. Challenges facing the Church in Brazil In the light of what I have said above, I would like to emphasize several challenges facing the beloved Church in Brazil.

Formation as a priority: Bishops, priests, religious, laity

Dear brothers, unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their heart, as was the case with the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:32).

That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity.

What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation.6 Dear brother Bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches.

Collegiality and solidarity in the Episcopal Conference

The Church in Brazil needs more than a national leader; it needs a network of regional “testimonies” which speak the same language and in every place ensure not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.

Communion is a fabric to be woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually “draws together the stitches” to make a more extensive and thick cover. A threadbare cover will not provide warmth.
It is important to remember Aparecida, the method of gathering diversity together. Not so much a diversity of ideas in order to produce a document, but a variety of experiences of God, in order to set a vital process in motion.

The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem, recounting their experience of meeting the risen Christ. There they came to know other manifestations of the Lord and the experiences of their brothers and sisters. The Episcopal Conference is precisely a vital space for enabling such an exchange of testimonies about encounters with the Risen One, in the north, in the south, in the west... There is need, then, for a greater appreciation of local and regional elements. Central bureaucracy is not sufficient; there is also a need for increased collegiality and solidarity. This will be a source of true enrichment for all.7

Permanent state of mission and pastoral conversion

Aparecida spoke about a permanent state of mission8 and of the need for pastoral conversion.9 These are two important results of that Assembly for the entire Church in the area, and the progress made in Brazil on these two points has been significant.

Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance.
Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that “pastoral care” is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. She gives birth, suckles, gives growth, corrects, nourishes and leads by the hand ... So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of “wounded” persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love.

In mission, also on a continental level,10 it is very important to reaffirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society and the Church; young people, who are the face of the Church’s future; women, who play a fundamental role in passing on the faith. Let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community. By losing women, the Church risks becoming sterile.

The task of the Church in society

In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful.
The Church claims the right to serve man in his wholeness, and to speak of what God has revealed about human beings and their fulfilment. The Church wants to make present that spiritual patrimony without which society falls apart and cities are overwhelmed by their own walls, pits, barriers. The Church has the right and the duty to keep alive the flame of human freedom and unity.

Education, health, social harmony are pressing concerns in Brazil. The Church has a word to say on these issues, because any adequate response to these challenges calls for more than merely technical solutions; there has to be an underlying view of man, his freedom, his value, his openness to the transcendent. Dear brother Bishops, do not be afraid to offer this contribution of the Church, which benefits society as a whole.

The Amazon Basin as a litmus test for Church and society in Brazil

There is one final point on which I would like to dwell, which I consider relevant for the present and future journey not only of the Brazilian Church but of the whole society, namely, the Amazon Basin. The Church’s presence in the Amazon Basin is not that of someone with bags packed and ready to leave after having exploited everything possible. The Church has been present in the Amazon Basin from the beginning, in her missionaries and religious congregations, and she is still present and critical to the area’s future. I think of the welcome which the Church in the Amazon Basin is offering even today to Haitian immigrants following the terrible earthquake which shook their country.

I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what Aparecida said about the Amazon Basin,11 its forceful appeal for respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden. In considering the pastoral challenge represented by the Amazon Basin, I have to express my thanks for all that the Church in Brazil is doing: the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon Basin established in 1997 has already proved its effectiveness and many dioceses have responded readily and generously to the appeal for solidarity by sending lay and priestly missionaries. I think Archbishop Jaime Chemelo, a pioneer in this effort, and Cardinal Hummes, the current President of the Commission. But I would add that the Church’s work needs to be further encouraged and launched afresh. There is a need for quality formators, especially professors of theology, for consolidating the results achieved in the area of training a native clergy and providing priests suited to local conditions and committed to consolidating, as it were, the Church’s “Amazonian face”.

Dear brother Bishops, I have attempted to offer you in a fraternal spirit some reflections and approaches for a Church like that of Brazil, which is a great mosaic made up of different pieces, images, forms, problems and challenges, but which for this very reason is an enormous treasure. The Church is never uniformity, but diversities harmonized in unity, and this is true for every ecclesial reality.

May the Virgin of Aparecida be the star which illumines your task and your journey of bringing Christ, as she did, to all the men and women of your immense country. Just as he did for the two lost and disillusioned disciples of Emmaus, he will warm your hearts and give you new and certain hope.
_________________

1 The Aparecida Document stresses how children, young people and the elderly build the future of peoples (cf. No. 447).

2 I recall for example, to cite only a few: Lorscheider, Mendes de Almeida, Sales, Vital, Camara, Macedo... as well as the first Bishop in Brazil, Pero Fernandes Sardinha (1551/1556), killed by hostile local tribes.

3 Letter of 26 January 1833 to his mother, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, vol. III (Oxford, 1979), p. 204.

4 The Aparecida Document provides a synthetic presentation of the deeper reasons behind this phenomenon (cf. No. 225).

5 Cf. also the four points mentioned by Aparecida (No. 226).

6 The Aparecida Document gives great attention to the formation both of the clergy and the laity (cf. Nos, 316- 325; 212).

7 Also for this aspect the Aparecida Document offers important lines of approach (cf. Nos 181-183; 189). HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 10/6

8 Cf. No. 216. 9 Cf. Nos. 365-372. 10 The conclusions of the Aparecida Conference insist on the countenance of a Church which is by her very nature evangelizing, which exists for evangelization, with boldness and freedom, at all levels (cf. Nos. 547-554). 11 Cf. especially Nos. 83-87 and from the standpoint of a unitary pastoral plan, No. 475.

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Pope's Address to Brazilian Leaders

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Hereis the text of Pope Francis' Address to Brazilian Leaders this morning in the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro. The symphony orchestra and chorus have begun the ceremony with beautiful musical selections culminating in the singing of the Rio World Youth Day Hymn as Pope Francis appeared on stage.

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Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank God for the opportunity to meet such a distinguished representation of the political, diplomatic, cultural and religious, academic and business leaders of this immense country of Brazil.
I would like to speak to you in your own beautiful Portuguese language, but in order to express more clearly what I carry in my heart, I prefer to speak in Spanish. Please forgive me!

I greet all of you most heartily and I express to you my gratitude. I thank Archbishop Orani and Mr Walmyr Junior for their kind words of welcome and introduction. In you I see both memory and hope: the memory of your countrys history and identity, and the hope that, in constant openness to the light radiating from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it will continue to develop in full respect for the ethical principles grounded in the transcendent dignity of the person.

In every nation, those in positions of responsibility are called to face the future, as the Brazilian thinker Alceu Amoroso Lima once said, with the calm gaze of one who knows how to see the truth.[ Il nostro tempo, in: La vita soprannaturale e il mondo moderno (Rio de Janeiro, 1956), p. 106.] I would like to consider three aspects of this calm, serene and wise gaze: first, the distinctiveness of your cultural tradition; second, joint responsibility for building the future; and third, constructive dialogue in facing the present moment.

1. It is important, first, to esteem the dynamic and distinctive character of Brazilian culture, with its extraordinary ability to integrate a variety of elements. The common feeling of a people, the foundations of its thought and creativity, the basic principles of its life, the criteria with which it assesses priorities and ways of acting, all rest on an integral vision of the human person.
This vision of man and of life so typical of the Brazilian people has been greatly nourished by the Gospel through the Catholic Church: above all, by faith in Jesus Christ, in the love of God and brotherhood with our neighbour. But the richness of this nourishment must be fully appreciated! It can render fruitful a cultural process that is true to Brazilian identity and capable of building a better future for all. This was the message of our beloved Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural address at the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, in Aparecida.

To promote an integral humanism and the culture of encounter and relationship: this is the Christian way of promoting the common good, the joy of living. Here, faith and reason unite, the religious dimension and the various aspects of human culture art, science, labour, literature... Christianity combines transcendence and incarnation; it brings ever new vitality to thought and life, in contrast to the dissatisfaction and disillusionment which creep into hearts and spread in the streets.

2. A second element which I would like to mention is responsibility for society. This calls for a certain kind of cultural, and hence political, paradigm. We are the ones responsible for training new generations knowledgeable in economic and political affairs, and solidly grounded in ethical values. The future demands of us a humanistic vision of the economy and a politics capable of ensuring greater and more effective participation on the part of all, eliminating forms of elitism and eradicating poverty. This is the road that we are called to travel: to see that basic needs are met and that human dignity, brotherhood and solidarity are guaranteed on every level. In the days of prophet Amos, Gods stern warning was already being heard: They sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals they ... trample down the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and push the afflicted out of the way (Am 2:6-7). The outcry, the call for justice, continues to be heard even today.

Anyone exercising a role of leadership needs to have very practical goals and to seek specific means to attain them. At the same time, there is always the risk of disappointment, resentment and indifference, if our plans and goals do not materialize. The dynamic virtue of hope inspires us to keep pressing on, to employ all our energies and abilities on behalf of those for whom we work, accepting results, making it possible to strike out on new paths, being generous even without apparent results, yet keeping hope alive.

Leadership also means making the most just decision after having considered all the options from the standpoint of personal responsibility and concern for the common good. This is the way to go to the heart of the evils of a society and to overcome them, also with the boldness of courageous and free actions. In exercising our responsibility, with all its limitations, it is important to embrace all of reality, observing, pondering, evaluating, in order to make decisions in the present but with an eye to the future, reflecting on the consequences of our decisions. To act responsibly is to see ones own actions in the light of other peoples rights and Gods judgement. To preserve this ethical sense appears today as an unprecedented historic challenge. Beyond scientific and technical competence, the present situation also demands a sense of moral obligation expressed in a social and deeply fraternal exercise of responsibility.

3. To fill out the gaze which I have proposed, in addition to an integral humanism which respects cultural distinctiveness and fraternal responsibility, I now conclude by pointing to something which I consider essential for facing the present moment: constructive dialogue. Between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue. Dialogue between generations, dialogue with the people, the capacity to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth. A country grows when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic and technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture. It is impossible to imagine a future for society without a significant contribution of moral energies within a democratic order which will always be tempted to remain caught up in the interplay of vested interests. A basic contribution in this regard is made by the great religious traditions, which play a fruitful role as a leaven of society and a life-giving force for democracy. Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favoured by the laicity of the state, which, without appropriating any one confessional stance, respects and esteems the presence of the religious factor in society, while fostering its concrete expressions.

When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice. Only in this way can understanding grow between cultures and religions, mutual esteem without needless preconceptions, respectful of the rights of everyone. Today, either we stand together with the culture of encounter, or we all fall; taking the right road makes the journey fruitful and secure.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for your attention. Please accept these words as an expression of my concern as Pastor of the Church and my love for the Brazilian people. Fraternal relations between people, and cooperation in building a more just society these are not some vague utopia, but the fruit of a concerted effort on the part of all, in service of the common good. I encourage you in your commitment to the common good, a commitment which demands of everyone wisdom, prudence and generosity. I entrust you to our Heavenly Father, asking him, through the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, to pour out his gifts on each of you, on your families and on your communities and workplaces. To all I cordially impart my blessing.

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Pope's Address During Stations of the Cross

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 27, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Celebration of the Way of the Cross yesterday at Copacabana Beach.

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Dear Young Friends,

We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you “to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption” (Address to Young People, 22 April 1984). Since then, the World Youth Day Cross has travelled to every continent and through a variety of human situations. It is, as it were, almost “steeped” in the life experiences of the countless young people who have seen it and carried it. Dear brothers and sisters, no one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life. I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?

1. According to an ancient Roman tradition, while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus’ response was: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death, would always be with him. Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, andthose who mourn the tragicloss of their children, as in the case of the 242 young victims of the fire in the City of Santa Maria at the beginning of this year. We pray for them. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world which, on the other hand, permits itself the luxury of throwing awaytons of food everyday; on the Cross, Jesus is united to the many mothers and fathers who suffer as they see their children become victims of drug-induced euphoria; on the Cross, Jesus is unitedwith those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel. How our inconsistencies make Jesus suffer!The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life” (cf. Jn 3:16).

2. Nowwe can answer the second question: What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it and to those who havetouched it? What has the Crossleft in each one of us? You see, itgives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the faithfullove which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we findhis immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16), because he never disappoints anyone!Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life: he has transformed the Cross from beingan instrument of hate, defeat and death to beinga sign of love, victory, triumph and life.

The first name given to Brazil was “The Land of the Holy Cross”. The Cross of Christ was planted five centuries ago not only on the shores of this country, but also in the history, the hearts and the lives of the people of Brazil and elsewhere. The suffering Christ is keenly felt here, as one of us who shares our journey even to the end. There is no cross, big or small, in our life, which the Lord does not share with us.

3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action; the Cross invites us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many times have we seen them in the Way of the Cross,how many times have they accompaniedJesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women… Today I ask you: which of them do you want to be? Do you want tobe like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands?Tell me: are you one of those who wash their hands, who feign ignorance and look the other way? Or are you like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood,orlike Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness.? And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to him?

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love.

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Reflections From Francis for the Church in Brazil
Highlights From His Meeting With Bishops

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013  - On Saturday in Rio, Pope Francis met with the bishops of Brazil, telling them that more than a formal address, he wanted to share with them some reflections.

Below are some of the highlights of those reflections:

-- In the context of a consideration of the discovery of Our Lady of Aparecida, the Pope said this: "The fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the stones of a mosaic, which we encounter, which we see. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait."

-- Reflecting on lessons from the disciples of Emmaus, he offered this: "Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.4 It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.
Faced with this situation, what are we to do?

We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning."

-- "I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts? A Church capable of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles... Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?
Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster.
But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere?"

-- Regarding challenges facing the Church in Brazil, he made these comments: "Formation as a priority: Bishops, priests, religious, laity

Dear brothers, unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their heart, as was the case with the disciples of Emmaus"

-- "What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation.6 Dear brother Bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches."

-- "Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance."

-- "Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that 'pastoral care' is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. She gives birth, suckles, gives growth, corrects, nourishes and leads by the hand ... So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of 'wounded' persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love."

-- Regarding the Church in society, Francis said: "In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful."

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On Mary: Our Model and Mother

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Closing Mass of the 28th World Youth Day at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this Mass, in which we have raised up to God our song of praise and thanksgiving for every grace received during this World Youth Day, I would like once more to thank Archbishop Orani Tempesta and Cardinal Ryłko for their kind words. I thank you too, dear young friends, for all the joy you have given me in these days. I carry each one of you in my heart! Now let us turn our gaze to our heavenly Mother, the Virgin Mary.

During these days, Jesus has insistently and repeatedly invited you to be his missionary disciples; you have listened to the voice of the Good Shepherd, calling you by name, and you have recognized the voice calling you (cf. Jn10:4). Could it be that in this voice, resounding in your heart, you have felt the tenderness of God’s love? Have you experienced the beauty of following Christ together with others, in the Church? Have you understood more deeply that the Gospel is the answer to the desire for an even fuller life? (cf. Jn10:10).

The Immaculate Virgin intercedes for us in heaven as a good mother who watches over her children. May Mary teach us by her life what it means to be a missionary disciple. Every time we pray the Angelus, we recall the event that changed the history of mankind for ever. When the Angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary that she would become the Mother of Jesus the Saviour, even without understanding the full significance of thatcall, she trusted God and replied: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk1:38). But what did she do immediately afterwards? On receiving the grace of being the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she did not keep that gift to herself; she set off, she left her home and went in haste to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was in need of assistance (cf. Lk1:38-39); she carried out an act of love, of charity,of practical service, bringing Jesus who was in her womb. And she did all this in haste!

There, my dear friends, we have our model. She who received the most precious gift from God, as her immediate response sets off to be of service and to bring Jesus. Let us ask Our Lady to help us too to give Christ’s joy to our families, our companions, our friends, to everyone. Never be afraid to be generous with Christ. It is worth it! Go out and set off with courage and generosity, so that every man and every woman may meet the Lord.
Dear young friends, we have an appointment for the next World Youth Day in 2016 in Kraków, Poland. Through Our Lady’s maternal intercession, let us ask for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the journey that will lead us to this next stage in our joyful celebration offaith and the love of Christ.

Now let us pray together ...

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Pope Francis Address at Farewell Ceremony

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during the Farewell Ceremony before leaving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Madam President,
Distinguished National, State and Local Authorities,
Dear Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro,
Dear Cardinals and Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am about to leave your country to return to Rome. I depart with many happy memories which I know will nourish my prayers. Already I am beginning to miss Brazil, this great people showing so much affection and friendship. I shall miss the natural and warm smiles I have seen in so many faces, and the enthusiasm shown by the volunteers. I shall miss the hope filling the eyes of the young people in the Hospital of Saint Francis. I shall miss the faith and joy shown by the residents of Varginha in the midst oftheir hardship. I know that Christ is truly present in the lives of countless young people and in the lives of many whom I have met during this unforgettable week. Thank you for the warm welcome and the friendship that have been offered to me. This too I shall miss.

In particular, I would like to thank Madam President for expressing the sentiments of the entire population of Brazil towards the Successor of Peter. I warmly extend gratitude to my brother Bishops and to their many collaborators for making this week a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ. I thank all those who took part in the eucharistic celebrations and other events, and I thank those who organized them and those who worked to broadcast them through the media. Finally, I wish to thank all those who in one way or another rose to the challenge of hosting and organizing the large numbers of young people. And not least my gratitude goes tothe many people who prayed, often in silence and simplicity, for this World Youth Day to bean authentic experience of growth in faith. May God reward all of you, as only he can!

As I express my thanks and bid farewell, my thoughts turnto those who are at the heart of these celebrations: the young people! May God bless you for the beautiful witness of your lives and for your intense and joyful participation over these last few days. Many of you came here as disciples; I have no doubt that all of you will leave as missionaries. Through your joyful witness and service, help to build a civilization of love. Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents in order to attain high ideals, itis worth recognizing the dignity of each human person, and it is worth taking risks for Christ and his Gospel. It is he that we have come to seek because he first sought us. It is he who has inflamed our hearts with the desire to take the Good News to the large cities and to the small communities, to the countryside and to all thecorners of this vast planet. I will always place my hopes in the young people of Brazil and in the young around the world:through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth. I have seen its first fruits and I know that others will joyfully reap the full harvest.

Finally, my thoughts turn to Our Lady of Aparecida, to whom I also bid farewell. In that beloved Shrine I knelt to pray for the entire human family and in particular for all Brazilians. I implored Mary to strengthen you in the Christian faith, which forms part of the noble soul of Brazil, as indeedof many other countries; thisfaith is your culture's treasure and serves as encouragement and support in the task ofbuilding a renewed humanity in harmony and solidarity. As he departs, the Pope says to all of you affectionately: "see you soon". He asks you not to forget to pray for him. The Pope needs the prayers of all of you. I offer you an affectionate embrace. May God bless you!

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Pope's Address to World Youth Day Volunteers

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013 - Here is Pope Francis' address to the volunteers of the 28th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

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Dear Volunteers, Good evening!

I could not return to Rome without first thanking all of you in a personal and affectionate way for the work and dedication with which you have accompanied, helped, and served the thousands of young pilgrims, and for the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts20:35).

The service you have given during these days brings to mind the mission of Saint John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. Every one of you, each in his or her own way, was a means enabling thousands of young people to "prepare the way" to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples. To prepare the way so that all people may know, meet and love the Lord. To you who in these days responded with such readiness and generosity to the call to be volunteers for World Youth Day, I say: May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.

God calls you to make definitive choices, and he has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. God callseach of us to be holy, to live his life, but he has a particular path for each one of us. Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage. Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of "enjoying" the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, "for ever", because we do not know whattomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that seeseverything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage "to swim against the tide". Have the courage to be happy.

The Lord calls some to be priests, to give themselves to him more fully, so as to love all people with the heart of the Good Shepherd. Some he calls to the service of others in the religious life: devoting themselves in monasteries to praying for the good of the world, and in various areas of the apostolate, giving of themselves for the sake of all, especially those most in need. I will never forget that day, 21 September - I was 17 years old - when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Floresto go to confession, I first heard God calling me. Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying "yes" to God. In him we find joy!

Dear young people, some of you may not yet know what youwill do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, inthe end he answered: Speak, Lord, for I am listening (cf. 1 Sam3:1-10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you wantme to do? What path am I to follow?

Dear friends, I thank you once more for all you have done during these days. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours.

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Going Against A Throw-Away Culture
Pope Francis Interview on Radio Catedral

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 30, 2013  - On the afternoon of Saturday, July 27, Pope Francis visited the studios of “Radio Catedral,” the radio broadcasting station of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, and gave a brief interview. Here is a translation of the words the Holy Father addressed to the listeners.

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Good day, good evening to all listeners. I thank you for your attention and I thank here the members of the Radio for their kindness in giving me the microphone. I thank them and I’m looking at the Radio and I see that today the means of communication are very important. I would say that today a Radio, a Catholic Radio is the closest pulpit we have. It is from where we can proclaim, through radio, human values, religious values and above all proclaim Jesus Christ, the Lord; to give the Lord the grace of making room for him among our things. So I greet and thank you for all the effort of this Archdiocese to have and maintain a Radio with such a large network. I ask all the listeners to join us in prayer and to work, as the priest said a short while ago, for a more humanist culture, richer in values and let’s not exclude anyone. May we all work for that word which isn’t pleasing today: solidarity. It is a word that one attempts to put aside always because it is bothersome and yet it is a word that reflects human and Christian values which today are required to go against – as the priest repeated a short while ago – the throw-away culture, according to which everything can be discarded. A culture that always leaves the people out: that leaves children out, that leaves young people out, that leaves the elderly out, that leaves out all those who aren’t necessary, who don’t produce -- this cannot be! On the contrary, solidarity includes everyone. You must continue to work for this culture of solidarity and for the Gospel.

A question on the importance of the family

Not only will I say that the family is important for the evangelization of the new world, but that the family is important, that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. If there is no family, the cultural survival of humanity is at risk. Like it or not, the family is at the base.

[Copyright 2013 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana]

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The Holy Father's address to the Leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America during their General Coordination Meeting ( RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 29, 2013)

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1. Introduction

I thank the Lord for this opportunity to speak with you, my brother bishops, the leadership of CELAM for the four-year period from 2011 to 2015. For 57 years CELAM has served the 22 Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean, working in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity to promote, encourage and improve collegiality among the bishops and communion between the region’s Churches and their pastors.

Like yourselves, I too witnessed the powerful working of the Spirit in the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate in Aparecida, in May 2007, which continues to inspire the efforts of CELAM for the desired renewal of the Particular Churches. In many of them, this renewal is clearly taking place. I would like to focus this conversation on the legacy of that fraternal encounter, which all of us have chosen to call a Continental Mission.


2. Particular characteristics of Aparecida

There are four hallmarks of the Fifth Conference. They are like four pillars for the implementation of Aparecida, and they are what make it distinctive.

1) Starting without a document

Medellín, Puebla and Santo Domingo began their work with a process of preparation which culminated in a sort of Instrumentum Laboris which then served as a basis for discussion, reflection and the approval of the final document. Aparecida, on the other hand, encouraged the participation of the Particular Churches as a process of preparation culminating in a document of synthesis. This document, while serving as a point of reference throughout the Fifth General Conference, was not taken as a starting point. The initial work consisted in pooling the concerns expressed by the bishops as they considered the new period of history we are living and the need to recover the life of discipleship and mission with which Christ founded the Church.

2) A setting of prayer with the people of God

It is important to remember the prayerful setting created by the daily sharing of the Eucharist and other liturgical moments, in which we were always accompanied by the People of God. On the other hand, since the deliberations took place in the undercroft of the Shrine, the music which accompanied them were the songs and the prayers of the faithful.

3) A document which continues in commitment, with the Continental Mission
This context of prayer and the life of faith gave rise to a desire for a new Pentecost for the Church and the commitment to undertake a Continental Mission. Aparecida did not end with a document; it continues in the Continental Mission.

4) The presence of Our Lady, Mother of America

It was the first conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in a Marian shrine.


3. Dimensions of the Continental Mission

The Continental Mission is planned along two lines: the programmatic and the paradigmatic. The programmatic mission, as its name indicates, consists in a series of missionary activities. The paradigmatic mission, on the other hand, involves setting in a missionary key all the day-to-day activities of the Particular Churches. Clearly this entails a whole process of reforming ecclesial structures. The “change of structures” (from obsolete ones to new ones) will not be the result of reviewing an organizational flow chart, which would lead to a static reorganization; rather it will result from the very dynamics of mission. What makes obsolete structures pass away, what leads to a change of heart in Christians, is precisely missionary spirit. Hence the importance of the paradigmatic mission.

The Continental Mission, both programmatic and paradigmatic, calls for creating a sense of a Church which is organized to serve all the baptized, and men and women of goodwill. Christ’s followers are not individuals caught up in a privatized spirituality, but persons in community, devoting themselves to others. The Continental Mission thus implies membership in the Church.

An approach like this, which begins with missionary discipleship and involves understanding Christian identity as membership in the Church, demands that we clearly articulate the real challenges facing missionary discipleship. Here I will mention only two: the Church’s inner renewal and dialogue with the world around us.

The Church’s inner renewal

Aparecida considered Pastoral Conversion to be a necessity. This conversion involves believing in the Good News, believing in Jesus Christ as the bearer of God’s Kingdom as it breaks into the world and in his victorious presence over evil, believing in the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, believing in the Church, the Body of Christ and the prolonging of the dynamism of the incarnation.

Consequently, we, as pastors, need to ask questions about the actual state of the Churches which we lead. These questions can serve as a guide in examining where the dioceses stand in taking up the spirit of Aparecida; they are questions which we need to keep asking as an examination of conscience.

1. Do we see to it that our work, and that of our priests, is more pastoral than administrative? Who primarily benefits from our efforts, the Church as an organization or the People of God as a whole?

2. Do we fight the temptation simply to react to complex problems as they arise? Are we creating a proactive mindset? Do we promote opportunities and possibilities to manifest God's mercy? Are we conscious of our responsibility for refocusing pastoral approaches and the functioning of Church structures for the benefit of the faithful and society?

3. In practice, do we make the lay faithful sharers in the Mission? Do we offer them the word of God and the sacraments with a clear awareness and conviction that the Holy Spirit makes himself manifest in them?

4. Is pastoral discernment a habitual criterion, through the use of Diocesan Councils? Do such Councils and Parish Councils, whether pastoral or financial, provide real opportunities for lay people to participate in pastoral consultation, organization and planning? The good functioning of these Councils is critical. I believe that on this score, we are far behind.

5. As pastors, bishops and priests, are we conscious and convinced of the mission of the lay faithful and do we give them the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them? Are we constantly open to letting ourselves be challenged in our efforts to advance the good of the Church and her mission in the world?

6. Do pastoral agents and the faithful in general feel part of the Church, do they identify with her and bring her closer to the baptized who are distant and alienated?

As can be appreciated, what is at stake here are attitudes. Pastoral Conversion is chiefly concerned with attitudes and reforming our lives. A change of attitudes is necessarily something ongoing: “it is a process”, and it can only be kept on track with the help of guidance and discernment. It is important always to keep in mind that the compass preventing us from going astray is that of Catholic identity, understood as membership in the Church.

Dialogue with the world around us

We do well to recall the words of the Second Vatican Council: “The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (Gaudium et Spes, 1). Here we find the basis for our dialogue with the contemporary world.

Responding to the existential issues of people today, especially the young, listening to the language they speak, can lead to a fruitful change, which must take place with the help of the Gospel, the magisterium, and the Church’s social doctrine. The scenarios and the areopagi involved are quite varied. For example, a single city can contain various collective imaginations which create “different cities”. If we remain within the parameters of our “traditional culture”, which was essentially rural, we will end up nullifying the power of the Holy Spirit. God is everywhere: we have to know how to find him in order to be able to proclaim him in the language of each and every culture; every reality, every language, has its own rhythm.


4. Some temptations against missionary discipleship

The decision for missionary discipleship will encounter temptation. It is important to know where the evil spirit is afoot in order to aid our discernment. It is not a matter of chasing after demons, but simply one of clear-sightedness and evangelical astuteness. I will mention only a few attitudes which are evidence of a Church which is “tempted”. It has to do with recognizing certain contemporary proposals which can parody the process of missionary discipleship and hold back, even bring to a halt, the process of Pastoral Conversion.

1. Making the Gospel message an ideology. This is a temptation which has been present in the Church from the beginning: the attempt to interpret the Gospel apart from the Gospel itself and apart from the Church. An example: Aparecida, at one particular moment, felt this temptation. It employed, and rightly so, the method of “see, judge and act” (cf. No. 19). The temptation, though, was to opt for a way of “seeing” which was completely “antiseptic”, detached and unengaged, which is impossible. The way we “see” is always affected by the way we direct our gaze. There is no such thing as an “antiseptic” hermeneutics. The question was, rather: How are we going to look at reality in order to see it? Aparecida replied: With the eyes of discipleship. This is the way Nos. 20-32 are to be understood. There are other ways of making the message an ideology, and at present proposals of this sort are appearing in Latin America and the Caribbean. I mention only a few:

a) Sociological reductionism. This is the most readily available means of making the message an ideology. At certain times it has proved extremely influential. It involves an interpretative claim based on a hermeneutics drawn from the social sciences. It extends to the most varied fields, from market liberalism to Marxist categorization.

b) Psychologizing. Here we have to do with an elitist hermeneutics which ultimately reduces the “encounter with Jesus Christ” and its development to a process of growing self- awareness. It is ordinarily to be found in spirituality courses, spiritual retreats, etc. It ends up being an immanent, self-centred approach. It has nothing to do with transcendence and consequently, with missionary spirit.

c) The Gnostic solution. Closely linked to the previous temptation, it is ordinarily found in elite groups offering a higher spirituality, generally disembodied, which ends up in a preoccupation with certain pastoral “quaestiones disputatae”. It was the first deviation in the early community and it reappears throughout the Church’s history in ever new and revised versions. Generally its adherents are known as “enlightened Catholics” (since they are in fact rooted in the culture of the Enlightenment).

d) The Pelagian solution. This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past.

2. Functionalism. Its effect on the Church is paralyzing. More than being interested in the road itself, it is concerned with fixing holes in the road. A functionalist approach has no room for mystery; it aims at efficiency. It reduces the reality of the Church to the structure of an NGO. What counts are quantifiable results and statistics. The Church ends up being run like any other business organization. It applies a sort of “theology of prosperity” to the organization of pastoral work.

3. Clericalism is also a temptation very present in Latin America. Curiously, in the majority of cases, it has to do with a sinful complicity: the priest clericalizes the lay person and the lay person kindly asks to be clericalized, because deep down it is easier. The phenomenon of clericalism explains, in great part, the lack of maturity and Christian freedom in a good part of the Latin American laity. Either they simply do not grow (the majority), or else they take refuge in forms of ideology like those we have just seen, or in partial and limited ways of belonging. Yet in our countries there does exist a form of freedom of the laity which finds expression in communal experiences: Catholic as community. Here one sees a greater autonomy, which on the whole is a healthy thing, basically expressed through popular piety. The chapter of the Aparecida document on popular piety describes this dimension in detail. The spread of bible study groups, of ecclesial basic communities and of Pastoral Councils is in fact helping to overcome clericalism and to increase lay responsibility.

We could continue by describing other temptations against missionary discipleship, but I consider these to be the most important and influential at present for Latin America and the Caribbean.

5. Some ecclesiological guidelines

1. The missionary discipleship which Aparecida proposed to the Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean is the journey which God desires for the present “today”. Every utopian (future-oriented) or restorationist (past-oriented) impulse is spiritually unhealthy. God is real and he shows himself in the “today”. With regard to the past, his presence is given to us as “memory” of his saving work, both in his people and in each of us as individuals; with regard to the future, he gives himself to us as “promise” and hope. In the past God was present and left his mark: memory helps us to encounter him; in the future is promise alone… he is not in the thousand and one “futuribles”. The “today” is closest to eternity; even more: the “today” is a flash of eternity. In the “today”, eternal life is in play.

Missionary discipleship is a vocation: a call and an invitation. It is given in the “today”, but also “in tension”. There is no such thing as static missionary discipleship. A missionary disciple cannot be his own master, his immanence is in tension towards the transcendence of discipleship and towards the transcendence of mission. It does not allow for self-absorption: either it points to Jesus Christ or it points to the people to whom he must be proclaimed. The missionary disciple is a self-transcending subject, a subject projected towards encounter: an encounter with the Master (who anoints us as his disciples) and an encounter with men and women who await the message.

That is why I like saying that the position of missionary disciples is not in the centre but at the periphery: they live poised towards the peripheries… including the peripheries of eternity, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. In the preaching of the Gospel, to speak of “existential peripheries” decentralizes things; as a rule, we are afraid to leave the centre. The missionary disciple is someone “off centre”: the centre is Jesus Christ, who calls us and sends us forth. The disciple is sent to the existential peripheries.

2. The Church is an institution, but when she makes herself a “centre”, she becomes merely functional, and slowly but surely turns into a kind of NGO. The Church then claims to have a light of her own, and she stops being that “mysterium lunae” of which the Church Fathers spoke. She becomes increasingly self-referential and loses her need to be missionary. From an “institution” she becomes a “enterprise”. She stops being a bride and ends up being an administrator; from being a servant, she becomes an “inspector”. Aparecida wanted a Church which is bride, mother and servant, a facilitator of faith and not an inspector of faith.

3. In Aparecida, two pastoral categories stand out; they arise from the uniqueness of the Gospel, and we can employ them as guidelines for assessing how we are living missionary discipleship in the Church: nearness and encounter. Neither of these two categories is new; rather, they are the way God has revealed himself to us in history. He is the “God who is near” to his people, a nearness which culminates in the incarnation. He is the God who goes forth to meet his people. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are pastoral plans which are “distant”, disciplinary pastoral plans which give priority to principles, forms of conduct, organizational procedures… and clearly lack nearness, tenderness, a warm touch. They do not take into account the “revolution of tenderness” brought by the incarnation of the Word. There are pastoral plans designed with such a dose of distance that they are incapable of sparking an encounter: an encounter with Jesus Christ, an encounter with our brothers and sisters. Such pastoral plans can at best provide a dimension of proselytism, but they can never inspire people to feel part of or belong to the Church. Nearness creates communion and belonging; it makes room for encounter. Nearness takes the form of dialogue and creates a culture of encounter. One touchstone for measuring whether a pastoral plan embodies nearness and a capacity for encounter is the homily. What are our homilies like? Do we imitate the example of our Lord, who spoke “as one with authority”, or are they simply moralizing, detached, abstract?

4. Those who direct pastoral work, the Continental Mission (both programmatic and paradigmatic) are the bishops. Bishops must lead, which is not the same thing as being authoritarian. As well as pointing to the great figures of the Latin American episcopate, which we all know, I would like to add a few things about the profile of the bishop, which I already presented to the Nuncios at our meeting in Rome. Bishops must be pastors, close to people, fathers and brothers, and gentle, patient and merciful. Men who love poverty, both interior poverty, as freedom before the Lord, and exterior poverty, as simplicity and austerity of life. Men who do not think and behave like “princes”. Men who are not ambitious, who are married to one church without having their eyes on another. Men capable of watching over the flock entrusted to them and protecting everything that keeps it together: guarding their people out of concern for the dangers which could threaten them, but above all instilling hope: so that light will shine in people’s hearts. Men capable of supporting with love and patience God’s dealings with his people. The Bishop has to be among his people in three ways: in front of them, pointing the way; among them, keeping them together and preventing them from being scattered; and behind them, ensuring that no one is left behind, but also, and primarily, so that the flock itself can sniff out new paths.

I do not wish to go into further detail about the person of the Bishop, but simply to add, including myself in this statement, that we are lagging somewhat as far as Pastoral Conversion is concerned. We need to help one another a bit more in taking the steps that the Lord asks of us in the “today” of Latin America and the Caribbean. And this is a good place to start.

I thank you for your patience in listening to me. Pardon me if my remarks have been somewhat disjointed and please, I beg that we take seriously our calling as servants of the holy and faithful people of God, for this is where authority is exercised and demonstrated: in the ability to serve. Many thanks.

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Francis' Press Conference on Return Flight From Brazil (Part 1)
"I am happy. It has been a good trip; it has done me good spiritually"

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 01, 2013  - Here is a ZENIT translation of the transcription provided by the Vatican of Francis' press conference on the flight home from Brazil.

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Father Lombardi:

Now, dear friends, we have the joy of having with us on this return trip, the Holy Father Francis. He has been kind enough to give us a good long time to evaluate the trip with us and answer your questions in total liberty. I give him the floor for a brief introduction and then we will begin with the list of those who registered to talk and we will take them from different national and linguistic groups. Now the floor is yours, You Holiness, to begin.

Pope Francis:

Good evening and thank you so much. I am happy. It has been a good trip; it has done me good spiritually. I’m quite tired, but with a joyful heart, and I am well, well: it did me good spiritually. It does one good to meet people, because the Lord works in each one of us; He works in the heart, and the richness of the Lord is such that we can always receive many good things from others. And this does me good. This, as a first evaluation. Then I would say that the kindness, the heart of the Brazilian people is great, is true: its great. They are such kind people, a people that loves celebration, that even in suffering always finds a way to seek the good anywhere. And this is good: they are a happy people, a people who have suffered so much! The joy of Brazilians is contagious, it’s contagious! And these people have a great heart. Then I would say of the organizers, from our part as well as that of the Brazilians – but I felt I was in front of a computer, an incarnated computer … But truly, everything was absolutely punctual, no? But good. Then we had problems with security theories: security here and there; there wasn’t an incident in the whole of Rio de Janeiro in these days, and everything was spontaneous. With less security, I was able to be with the people, to embrace and greet them, without armored cars. It’s the security of trusting people. It’s true that there is always the danger that there is a madman … alas, yes, that there is a madman who does something; but there is also the Lord! But, to make an armored space between the Bishop and the people is madness, and I prefer this madness: [to be] outside and run the risk of the other madness. I prefer this madness: outside. Closeness does good to all.

Then, the organization of the Day, not something specific, but everything: the artistic part, the religious part, the catechetical part, the liturgical part … it was very beautiful! They have a capacity to express themselves in art. Yesterday, for instance, they did very beautiful things, very beautiful! Then, Aparecida. For me Aparecida is an intense religious experience. I recall the Fifth Conference. I was there to pray. I wanted to go alone, somewhat hidden, but there was an impressive crowd! It wasn’t possible [to be hidden], I knew that before arriving. And we prayed, we did. I don’t know … one thing … but also from your part. Your work was, I’m told – I didn’t read the newspapers during these days, I didn’t have the time, I did not watch the TV, nothing --, but I’m told that it was good, good, good work! Thank you, thank you for the collaboration, and thank you for having done this. Then the number, the number of young people. Today – I can’t believe it – but today the Governor spoke of three million. I can’t believe it. But from the altar -- that’s true! – I don’t know if you, some of you were at the altar: from the altar, at the end, the whole beach was full, up to the curve, more than four kilometers. But so many young people. And they say, Monsignor Tempesta told me, that they were from 178 countries: 178! The Vice-President also gave me this number: that’s certain. It’s important! Intense!

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. Now we give the floor first to Juan de Lara, who is from Efe, a Spaniard, and it’s the last trip he makes with us; so, we are happy to give him this possibility.

Juan de Lara:

Good evening, Holiness. On behalf of all our companions we want to thank you for these days you have given us in Rio de Janeiro, the work you have done, and the effort it implies and also in the name of all Spanish journalists, we want to thank you for the prayers and the praying for the victims of the train accident of Santiago de Compostela. Thank you very much. And the first question, -- it doesn’t have much to do with the trip, but we take advantage of the occasion that gives us this possibility and I wanted to ask you: Holiness, in these four months of pontificate, we see that you have created several commissions to reform the Vatican Curia. I would like to ask you: What type of reform do you have in mind? Do you contemplate the possibility of doing away with the IOR, the so-called Vatican Bank? Thank you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The steps I have taken in these four and a half months, come from two sources: the content of what had to be done, it all comes from the source of the General Congregations that we Cardinals had. They were things that we Cardinals asked for to the one who’d be the new Pope. I remember that I asked for many things, thinking of someone else. That is, we asked, this has to be done … for instance, the Commission of eight Cardinals, we know that it’s important to have an outside consultation, not the consultations that take place, but from the outside. And this is in line – here I make a sort of abstraction, thinking, however, to explain it – in the line increasingly of the maturation of the relation between the Synodality and the Primacy. That is, these eight Cardinals favor Synodality, they help the different episcopates of the world to express themselves in the government itself of the Church. Many proposals were made, which have not yet been put into practice, such as the reform of the Synod’s Secretariat, the methodology; such as the Post-Synodal Commission which has a permanent character of consultation; such as the Cardinals’ Consistories with topics that aren’t so formal – such as, for instance, canonization --, but also subjects, etc. Well, the source of the contents comes from there. The second source is the opportunity. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t hard for me, at the end of the first month of pontificate, to create the Commission of the eight Cardinals, which is one thing … The financial part I thought I’d address next year, because it’s not the most important thing to address. However, the agenda was changed due to the circumstances that you know, which are of the public domain; problems appeared which had to be addressed. The first, the problem of the IOR, namely, how to direct it, how to delineate it, how to reform it, how to heal what has to be healed, and there is the first Commission of Reference, that’s its name. You know the <chirograph>, what is requested, those who make it up, and everything. Then we had the meeting of the Commission of the fifteen Cardinals who are concerned with the economic aspects of the Holy See. They are from all parts of the world. And there, while preparing that meeting, the need was seen to establish a same Reference Commission for the whole economy of the Holy See. That is, the economic problem was addressed outside the agenda, but these things happen when in the office of government, no? One goes here but a goal is kicked from over there and one must intercept it, isn’t that right? Then, life is like this and that is what is lovely about life also. I repeat the question you asked me about the IOR, sorry, I’m speaking in Spanish. Sorry … the answer came to me in Spanish.

[Repeated in Italian]

With reference to that question you asked me about the IOR, I don’t know how the IOR will end; some say that, perhaps, it’s best if it’s a bank, others that it be an aid fund, others say to close it. Alas! These voices are heard. I don’t know. I trust the work of the people of the IOR, who are working on this, also of the Commission. The President of the IOR remains, the same one who was there before; instead the Director and the Vice-Director have resigned. But this, I cannot tell you how this story will end, and this is good also because one finds, one seeks; we are human, in this; we must find the best. But, this yes; but the characteristics of the IOR – whether a bank, an aid fund, whatever it is – must be transparent and honest. This must be so. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Many thanks, Your Holiness. So we now pass to a person of the representatives of the Italian group, and we have one whom you know well: Andrea Tornielli, who comes to ask you a question on behalf of the Italian group.

Andrea Tornielli:

Holy Father, I have a question that is, perhaps, somewhat indiscreet: the photograph has gone around the world of you, when we left, going up the steps of the plane carrying a black bag, and there were articles throughout the world that commented on this novelty: yes, of the Pope going up ... it never happened, we said, that the Pope went up with his baggage in hand. So, there were even theories about what the black bag contained. Now, my questions are: one, why did you carry the black bag and why was it not carried by a collaborator, and two, can you tell us what was inside? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

It didn’t have the key of the atomic bomb! Alas! I carried it because I’ve always done so: when I travel, I carry it. What is inside? There is my razor, there is the Breviary, there is the agenda, there is a book to read – I took one on Saint Teresina to whom I am devoted. I have always carried the bag when I travel: it’s normal. But we must be normal … I don’t know .. what you are saying is a bit strange to me, that that photo has gone around the world. But we must get used to being normal, the normality of life. I don’t know, Andrea, if I’ve answered you …

Father Lombardi:

So now we give the floor to a representative of the Portuguese language, Aura Miguel, who is from Radio Renascenca.

Aura Miguel:

Holiness, I want to ask you why you ask so insistently that we pray for you? It’s not normal, usual, to hear a Pope ask so much to pray for him.

Pope Francis:

I’ve always asked for this. When I was a priest I asked for it, but not so frequently. I began to ask for it with a certain frequency in my work as Bishop, because I feel that if the Lord doesn’t help in this work of helping the People of God to go forward, one can’t … I truly feel I have so many limitations, so many problems, also being a sinner – you know it! – and I must ask for this. But it comes from within! I also ask Our Lady to pray for me to the Lord. It’s a habit, but it’s a habit that comes from the heart and also from the need I have for my work. I feel I must ask … I don’t know, it’s like this …

Father Lombardi:

Now we pass to the group of the English language, and we give the floor to our colleague Pullella of Reuters, who is here before you.

Philip Pullella:

Holiness, thank you, on behalf of the English group, for your availability. The colleague from Lara has already asked the question we wanted to ask, so I’ll proceed somewhat on those lines, however: in the search to make these changes, I remember that you said to the group of Latin America that there are so many saints that work in the Vatican, but also persons who are somewhat less saintly, no? Have you met with resistance in your desire to change things in the Vatican? Have you found resistance? The second question is: you live in a very austere world, you have stayed in Saint Martha’s, etc. Do you want your collaborators, also the Cardinals, to follow this example and perhaps live in community, or is it something for you only?

Pope Francis:

The changes … the changes come also from two sources: what we Cardinals requested, and what comes from my personality. You were speaking of the fact that I have stayed at Saint Martha’s: but I couldn’t live alone in the Palace, and it’s not luxurious. The papal apartment isn’t so luxurious! It’s ample, big, but not luxurious, but I can’t live alone and with a small tiny group! I need people, to meet people, to talk with people … And because of this the boys of the Jesuit school asked me: “Why do you do it? Out of austerity? Poverty? No, no. Simply for psychiatric reasons, because I can’t cope psychologically. Everyone must carry his life forward, his way of living, of being. The Cardinals who work in the Curia do not live richly and magnificently: they live in an apartment, they are austere, they are austere. Those that I know, the apartments that APSA gives the Cardinals. Then it seems to me there is something else I would like to say. Each one must live as the Lord asks him to live. But austerity – a general austerity – I think is necessary for all of us who work in the service of the Church. There are so many shades of austerity … each one must find his way. In regard to the saints, this is true, there are saints: Cardinals, priests, bishops, Sisters, laymen: people who pray, people who work so much, and also who go to the poor, in a hidden way. I know of some who are concerned with feeding the poor and then, in their free time, go to do their ministry in one or another church … They are priests. There are saints in the Curia. And there are also some who aren’t so saintly, and these are those who make more noise. You know that a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows. And this grieves me when there are these things. But there are some who give scandal, some. We have this Monsignor in jail, I think he’s still in jail, he is not in jail because he resembled Blessed Imelda in fact, he isn’t a Blessed. These are scandals that cause grief. Something – I have never said this , but I recall – I think the Curia has fallen somewhat from the level that it had some time ago, of those old Curia men … the profile of the old Curia man, faithful, who did his work. We are in need of such persons. I believe … they exist, but they are not so many as there were some time ago. The profile of the old Curia man: I would say this. We need more of these. Do I find resistance? Alas! If there is resistance, I haven’t seen it yet. It’s true that I haven’t done so many things, but I can say yes, I have found help, and I have also found loyal people. For instance, I’m pleased when a person says to me: “I’m not in agreement,” and I have found this. “But I don’t see this, I don’t agree: I say it, you do it.” This is a true collaborator. And I’ve found this in the Curia. And this is good. But when there are those who say: “Ah, how good, how good, how good,” but then say the opposite on the other side … Now I can’t remember. Perhaps there are some, but I can’t remember. Resistance: in four months one can’t find so much ….

Father Lombardi:

Well then, we now go to a Brazilian, it seems right to me. Then there is Patricia Zorzan, perhaps Izoard is coming so then we also have a Frenchman.

Patricia Zorzan:

Speaking on behalf of Brazilians. The society has changed, young people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same sex. In Brazil a law has been approved which extends the right of abortion and has allowed matrimony between persons of the same sex. Why didn’t you speak about this?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

But it’s an issue that interests young people …

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

What is the position of Your Holiness, can you tell us?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

That of the Church. I’m a child of the Church.

[Repeated in Italian]

Father Lombardi:

Now we return to the Spanish group: Dario Menor Torres … ah, sorry, Izoard, whom we already called, so we have one of the French group … and then, Dario Menor.

Antoine-Marie Izoard:

Good day, Your Holiness. On behalf of colleagues of the French language on the flight – we are nine on this flight. For a Pope who is not keen on interviews, we are truly grateful to you. Since March 13, you have introduced yourself as the Bishop of Rome, with very great and strong insistence. So, we would like to understand what the profound meaning is of this insistence, if perhaps more than collegiality there is talk perhaps of ecumenism, for the case of being primus inter pares in the Church? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Yes, on this we must not go beyond what is said. The Pope is bishop, Bishop of Rome, because the Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ. There are other titles, but the first title is “Bishop of Rome,” and everything stems from there. To speak, to think what this means to be primus inter pares, no, this isn’t a consequence of that. It’s simply the Pope’s first title: Bishop of Rome. But there are also others … I think you said something about ecumenism: I believe this favors ecumenism somewhat. But, this alone …

Father Lombardi:

Now Dario Menor of La Razon of Spain:

Dario Menor Torres:

A question about your feelings. You commented a week ago on the child who asked you how you felt, if someone could imagine how he could be Pope and if he could wish for it. You said one had to be mad to do it. After your first multitudinous experience, such as these days in Rio have been, can you tell us how you feel about being Pope, if it’s very hard, if you’re happy being so and, in addition, if in some way it has enhanced your faith or on the contrary, if you have had doubts. Thank you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

To do the work of a bishop is a good thing, it’s good. The problem is when one seeks that work: this isn’t so good, this isn’t from the Lord. But when the Lord calls a priest to become bishop, this is good. There’s always the danger of thinking oneself superior to others, not as others, somewhat as a prince. These are dangers and sins. But the work of a bishop is good: it’s to help brothers to go forward. The bishop in front of the faithful, to show the way; the bishop in the midst of the faithful, to aid communion; the bishop behind the faithful, because the faithful so many times have the scent of the way. The bishop must be like this. The question was if I like it? I like being bishop, I like it. I was so happy at Buenos Aires, so happy! I have been happy, it’s true. The Lord has helped me in that. But I was happy as a priest, and I’ve been happy as a bishop. In this regard I say: I like it!

Question off-screen:

And being Pope?

Pope Francis:

Also! Also! When the Lord puts you there, if you do what the Lord wants, you are happy. This is my sentiment, what I feel.

Father Lombardi:

Now another of the Italian group: Salvatore Mazza of “Avvenire”

Salvatore Mazza:

I can’t even get up. I’m sorry, I can’t even stand up because of the many children I have at my feet. We saw in these days, we saw you full of energy even late in the evening. We are seeing it now with the plane that shakes, that you are standing calmly, without an ounce of hesitation. We wish to ask you: there is much talk of forthcoming trips. There’s talk of Asia, Jerusalem, Argentina. Do you already have a more or less definite calendar for the coming year, or is it all yet to be seen?

Pope Francis:

Nothing is defined, defined. But I can say something to which thought is being given. It’s defined – sorry – September 22 to Cagliari. Then, on October 4 to Assisi. In mind, within Italy, I would like to meet my own one day: go by plane in the morning and return with the others because they, poor things, call me and we have a good relationship. But only one day. Outside of Italy: Patriarch Bartholomew wants to have a meeting to commemorate the 50 years of Athenagoras and Paul VI at Jerusalem. The Israeli government has also extended a special invitation to go to Jerusalem. I believe the government of the Palestinian Authority has done the same. Thought is being given to this: it’s not certain whether one will or will not go … Then, in Latin America, I don’t think there is the possibility to return because the Pope is Latin American, the first trip was in Latin America … goodbye! We must wait a bit! I think we can go to Asia, but this is all in the air. I received an invitation to go to Sri Lanka and also to the Philippines. But we must go to Asia. Because Pope Benedict did not have the time to go to Asia, and it’s important. He went to Australia and then to Europe, America, but Asia … To go to Argentina: at present I think we can wait a bit, because all these trips have a certain priority. I would like to go to Constantinople, on September 30, to visit Bartholomew I, but it’s not possible, it’s not possible because of my agenda. If we meet, we’ll do so at Jerusalem.

Questions off-screen:

Fatima?

Pope Francis:

Fatima, there is also an invitation to Fatima, it’s true, it’s true. There’s an invitation to go to Fatima.

Questions off-screen:

September 30 or November 30?

Pope Francis:

November, November: Saint Andrew.

Father Lombardi:

Well then, now we go back to the United States and we call on Hada Messia of CNN to ask you a question:

Hada Messia:

Hello … you are holding up better than me … No, no, no: ok, ok. My question is: when you met with Argentine young people, somewhat jokingly, perhaps somewhat seriously you said to them that you, also, sometimes feel caged: we would like to know what you were referring to, exactly.

Pope Francis:

You know how many times I wish to go on the streets of Rome, because at Buenos Aires I used to go on the street, I liked it so much! In this connection, I feel a bit caged. But I mustn’t say this because those of the Vatican Gendarmerie are so good; they are good, good, good and I’m grateful to them. Now they let me do a few more things. I believe … their duty is to guard the security. Caged, in that sense. I would like to go on the street, but I understasnd it’s not posible: I understand it. I said it in that sense. Because my habit was – as we say in Buenos Aires – I was a street priest …

Father Lombardi:

Now we call on a Brazilian again: it’s Marcio Campos, and I also ask Guenois to come close for the next turn, for the French.

Pope Francis:

I was asking the time, because they must serve supper, but are you hungry?

Off-screen:

No, no …

Marcio Campos:

Your blessing, Holy Father. I want to say to you when you feel longing for Brazil, for the joyful Brazilian people, embrace the flag that they gave you. I want to say also that I want to thank my colleagues of the newspapers Folha de Sao Paulo, Estado, Globo and Veja for representing them with a question. Holy Father, it’s very difficult to accompany a Pope. We are all tired. You are fine and we are tired. In Brazil, the Catholic Church has lost faithful over the years. Is the Charismatic Renewal Movement a possibility to avoid the faithful joining the Pentecostal churches? Thank you very much for your presence, and thank you very much for our being on your flight.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

What you say is very true about the loss of faithful: it’s true, it’s true. There are statistics. We spoke with the Brazilian bishops about the problem, in a meeting we had yesterday. You asked about the Charismatic Renewal Movement. I’ll tell you something. In the years, at the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s, I couldn’t stand them. Once, speaking of them, I said this phrase: “They confuse a liturgical celebration with a samba school!” I said this. But I repented. Then, I got to know them better. It’s also true that the Movement, with good advisers, has gone on a good path. And now I think this Movement has done so much good to the Church in general. At Buenos Aires, I met with them often and once a year had a Mass with all of them in the Cathedral. I’ve always favored them, after I was converted, when I saw the good they do. Because at this moment of the Church – and here I lengthen the answer a bit – I think the Movements are necessary. The Movements are a grace of the Holy Spirit. “But how can one stop a Movement that is so free?” The Church is also free! The Holy Spirit does what He wishes. Then He does the work of harmonizing, but I think the Movements are a grace, those Movements that have the spirit of the Church. Because of this, I think that the Charismatic Renewal Movement not only serves to avoid some going to join Pentecostal confessions. But no! It serves the Church! It renews us. And each one seeks his Movement according to his charism, where the Spirit takes him.

Question Off-screen

Pope Francis:

I’m tired. I’m tired.

Father Lombardi:

Well then, Guenois of Le Figaro for the French group.

Jean-Marie Guenois:

Holy Father, a question with my colleague of La Croix, also: You said that the Church without women loses fecundity. What concrete measures will you take? For instance, a feminine diaconate or a woman head of a dicastery? It’s a very small technical question: You said you were tired. Do you have a special preparation for the return? Thank you, Holiness.

Pope Francis:

We begin with the last. This plane doesn’t have special preparations. I’m in front, in a good armchair, common, but ordinary, such as everyone has. I had a letter written and a telephone call made to say that I didn’t want special preparations on the plane: is it clear? Second, women. A Church without women is like the Apostolic College without Mary. The role of women in the Church is not only maternity, the mother of the family, but it’s stronger: it is, in fact, the icon of the Virgin, of Our Lady, the one who helps the Church grow! But think that Our Lady is more important than the Apostles! She is more important! The Church is feminine: she is Church, she is spouse, she is Mother. But women in the Church, not only must … I don’t know how it’s said in Italian … a woman’s role in the Church must not end only as mother, as worker, limited. No! It’s something else! But the Popes … Paul VI wrote a very beautiful thing on women, but I think we must go further in making the role and charism of women more explicit. A Church without women can’t be understood, but active women in the Church, with their profile, which they carry forward. I’m thinking of an example that has nothing to do with the Church, but it’s an historical example: in Latin America, in Paraguay. For me, the Paraguayan woman is the most glorious of Latin America. Are you Paraguayan? After the war, there were eight women for every man and these women made a rather difficult choice: the choice of having children to save the homeland, the culture, the faith and the language. In the Church, it must be made more explicit. I think we have not yet made a profound theology of woman in the Church. She can only do this or that, now she is an altar server, then she does the Reading, she is president of Caritas. But there is more! A profound theology must be made of woman. This is what I think.

Father Lombardi:

Now for the Spanish group, we have Pablo Ordaz of El Pais.

Pablo Ordaz:

We wanted to know your relation of work, not so much as friend, of collaboration with Benedict XVI. There’s never been a circumstance like this before, and if you have frequent contacts, and if he is helping you with this burden. Thank you very much.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I believe the last time there were two Popes, or three Popes, they didn’t speak to one another; they were fighting to see who was the true one. There were three in the Western Schism. There is something that …

[Repeated in Italian]

There is something that qualifies my relation with Benedict: I love him so much. I’ve always loved him. For me he is a man of God, a humble man, a man who prays. I was so happy when he was elected Pope. Also when he gave his resignation, it was for me an example of greatness! A great man. Only a great man does this! A man of God is a man of prayer. He now lives in the Vatican, and some say to me: but how can this be? Two Popes in the Vatican! But, doesn’t he encumber you? Doesn’t he make a revolution against you? All these things that are said, no? I’ve found a phrase to say this: “It’s like having a grandfather at home,” but a wise grandfather. When a grandfather is at home with a family, he is venerated, loved, listened to. He is a man of prudence! He doesn’t meddle. I’ve said to him so many times: “Holiness, you receive, make your life, come with us.” He came for the inauguration and blessing of the statue of Saint Michael. There, that phrase says everything. For me he is like having a grandfather at home: my father. If I had a difficulty or something I didn’t understand, I would telephone him: “But, tell me, can I do that?” And when I went to talk about that big problem of Vatileaks, he told me everything with a simplicity … at the service. It’s something I don’t know if you know, I think so, but I’m not sure: when he spoke to us, in his farewell address on February 28, he said to us: “The next Pope is among you: I promise obedience to him.” But he’s a great man, he is a great!

Father Lombardi:

Well now we give the floor again to a Brazilian, Anna Ferreira; and now Gian Guido Vecchi is also coming for Italian.

Anna Ferreira:

Holy Father, good evening. Thank you. I would like to say “thank you” so many times: thank you for having brought so much joy to Brazil, and thank you also for answering our questions. We, journalists, are so fond of asking questions. I would like to know, why, yesterday, you spoke to the Brazilian Bishops about women’s participation in our Church. I’d like to understand better: how should this participation be for us, women in the Church? If you … what do you think of the ordination of women? What should our position in the Church be?

Pope Francis:

I would like to explain a bit what I said on the participation of women in the Church: it can’t be limited to being altar servers or presidents of Caritas, catechists … No! It must be more, but profoundly more! Even mystically more, with what I’ve said of the theology of woman. And, with reference to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and she said : “No.” John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That is closed, that door is closed, but I’d like to say something about this. I’ve said it, but I repeat it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the Apostles, than bishops, deacons and priests. In the Church, woman is more important than bishops and priests; how, it’s what we must seek to make more explicit, because theological explicitness about this is lacking. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Gian Guido Vecchi, of Corriere della Sera: I ask Mrs. Pigozzi and Nicole then, to come after.

Gian Guido Vecchi:

Holy Father, during this trip you have spoken many times about mercy. In regard to access to the sacraments of divorced persons who have remarried, is there a possibility that something will change in the discipline of the Church? That these sacraments be an occasion to bring these people closer, rather than a barrier that separates them from the other faithful?

Pope Francis:

This is a subject that is always asked about. Mercy is greater than the case you pose. I believe this is the time of mercy. This change of era, also so many problems of the Church – such as the witness that’s not good of some priests, also problems of corruption in the Church, also the problem of clericalism, to give an example -- have left so many wounds, so many wounds. And the Church is Mother: she must go to heal the wounds with mercy. But if the Lord does not tire of forgiving, we have no other choice than this: first of all, to cure the wounds. The Church is Mother and must go on this path of mercy. And find mercy for all. But I think, when the Prodigal Son returned home, his father didn’t say: “But you, listen sit down: what did you do with the money?” No! He had a feast! Then, perhaps, when the son wished to speak, he spoke. The Church must do likewise. When there is someone … not just wait for them: go to find them! This is mercy. And I believe that this is a kairos: this time is a kairos of mercy. But John Paul II had this first intuition, when he began with Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy … he had something, he had intuited that it was a necessity of this time. With reference to the problem of Communion, it’s not a problem, but when they are in a second union, they can’t. I think that it’s necessary to look at this in the totality of matrimonial ministry. And because of this it’s a problem. But also –a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of the economy, as we call it, and give a second possibility, they allow it. But I think this problem – I close the parenthesis – must be studied in the framework of matrimonial ministry. And because of this, two things: first, one of the subjects to be consulted with these eight of the Council of Cardinals, with whom we will meet, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of October, is how to go forward in matrimonial ministry, and this problem will arise there. And, a second thing: Fifteen days ago, the secretary of the Synod of Bishops was with me, for the topic of the next Synod. It was an anthropological topic, but speaking and speaking again, going and returning, we saw this anthropological topic: how faith helps the planning of the person, but in the family, and to go, therefore, to matrimonial ministry. We are on the way for a somewhat profound matrimonial ministry. And this is everyone’s problem, because there are so many, no? For instance, I’ll mention only one: Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, said that for him half of all marriages are null. Why did he say this? Because they get married without maturity, they marry without remembering that it’s for the whole of life, or they marry because socially they must marry. And the matrimonial ministry also comes into this. And also the judicial problem of the nullity of marriages, this must be reviewed, because the Ecclesiastical Tribunals are not enough for this. The problem of the matrimonial ministry is complex. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. Now, then, we have Mrs. Pigozzi who is of Paris Match, and again of the French group.

Caroline Pigozzi:

Good evening, Holy Father. I would like to know if you, since you’ve been Pope, still feel yourself a Jesuit.

Pope Francis:

It’s a theological question, because Jesuits take the vow of obedience to the Pope. But if the Pope is a Jesuit, perhaps he should take a vow of obedience to the General of the Jesuits … I don’t know how this is resolved … I feel myself a Jesuit in my spirituality, in the spirituality of the Exercises, spirituality, the one I have in my heart. But I feel so much like this that in three days I’ll go to celebrate with Jesuits the feast of Saint Ignatius: I will say the morning Mass. I haven’t changed my spirituality, no. Francis, Franciscan: no. I feel myself a Jesuit and I think like a Jesuit. Not hypocritically, but I think as a Jesuit. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

If you can still bear it, there are still some questions. Now, Nicole Winfield, who is from Associated Press, and there are … but he wasn’t … but, I had a list and I really believed that you were organized … So, ok, Elisabetta, join the list also, sorry.

Nicole Winfield:

Holiness, thank you again for having come “among the lions.” Holiness, at the fourth month of your pontificate, I would like to ask you to make a small evaluation. Can you tell us what was the best thing of being Pope, an anecdote, and what was the worst thing, and what was the thing that surprised you most in this period?

Pope Francis:

But I don’t know how to answer this, really. Big thing, big things didn’t happen. Beautiful things, yes, for instance, the meeting with Italian Bishops was so good, so good. As Bishop of the capital of Italy, I felt I was at home with them. And that was lovely, but I don’t know if it was the best. Also a painful thing, which affected my heart a lot, the visit to Lampedusa. But that’s something to weep about, that did me good. But when these boats arrive they leave some thousands there before the coast and they must arrive alone with the boat. And this makes me grieve because I think that these persons are victims of a global socio-economic system. But the worst thing – I’m sorry – that happened to me was sciatic –truly! – I had that the first month because to do the interviews I sat in an armchair, and this gave me some grief. It’s a very painful sciatic, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone! But these things: to talk with people; the meeting with seminarians and women religious was very lovely, was very lovely. Also the meeting with the students of the Jesuit colleges was very lovely, good things.

Question:

What is the thing that surprised you most?

Pope Francis:

The people, the people, the good people I’ve met. I’ve met so many good people in the Vatican. I thought what I should say, but that is true. I do justice, saying this: so many good people. So many good people, so many good people, but good, good, good!

Father Lombardi:

Elisabetta, but you know her and also Sergio Rubini, perhaps is coming close, so we have the Argentines.

Elisabetta Pique:

Pope Francis, first of all on behalf of the 50,000 Argentines that I met there and who said to me: you are going to travel with the Pope? Please, tell him he was fantastic, stupendous, ask him when he is going to travel, but you already said you aren’t going to travel … So I’m going to ask you a more difficult question. Did you get scared when you saw the “Vatileaks” report?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

No, I’m going to tell you a story about the “Vatileaks” report. When I went to see Pope Benedict, after praying in the chapel, we went to his study and I saw a big box and a thick envelope. Benedict.

[Repeated in Italian]

Benedict said to me: “All the statements, the things that the witnesses said are in this big box, all are there. But the summary and the final judgment are in this envelope. And here one says ta-ta-ta …” He had everything in his head! But what intelligence! Everything memorized everything! But no, (words in Spanish) I didn’t get sacred, no. No, no. But it’s a big problem, alas. But I didn’t get scared.

Sergio Rubin:

Holiness, two little things. This is the first one: You have insisted a lot on halting the loss of faithful. In Brazil, it’s been very strong. Do you hope that this trip will contribute to having many people return to the Church, to feel closer to her? And the second, the more personal: you like Argentina a lot, and you have Buenos Aires very much in your heart. Argentines are wondering if you miss that Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires you went around in a bus, on the streets. Thank you very much.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I think a papal trip always does one good. I believe this will do good to Brazil, but not only the presence of the Pope, but what was done in this World Youth Day, they mobilized and they will do so much good, perhaps they will help the Church a lot. But these faithful who have gone away, so many aren’t happy because they feel they belong to the Church. I believe this will be positive, not only because of the trip, but above all because of the Days, the Day was a wonderful event. And of Buenos Aires, yes, at times I miss it. And that I’ve felt. But it is a serene missing, a serene missing, it is a serene missing. But I think that you, Sergio, know better than all the others, you can answer this question, with the book you’ve written!

Father Lombardi:

Now we have the Russian and then Valentina, who was the dean, who wanted to close.

Alexey Bukalov:

Good evening Holy Father. Holy Father, returning to ecumenism: today the Orthodox are celebrating 1,025 years of Christianity. There are great celebrations in many capitals. Would you like to comment on this event, I would be happy if you did. Thank you.

Pope Francis:

In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness that I would like to say on this occasion in which you ask me this question. Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the Church that has grown most, they said this phrase to me: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus.” Consumerism, wellbeing, have done us so much harm. Instead you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reference. When one reads Dostoyevsky – I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light of the East. John Paul II wrote it in his Letter. But so many times the luxus of the West makes us lose the horizon. I don’t know, it came to me to say this. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

And now we close with Valentina that, as she began in the trip of departure, now closes on the return trip.

Valentina Alazraki:

Holiness, thank you for keeping the promise to answer our questions on the way back …

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

I delayed your supper …

[Repeated in Italian]

Valentina Alazraki:

It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter … well, the serious question on behalf of all the Mexicans: When are you going to Guadalupe? But that one is of the Mexicans. Mine is: you are going to canonize two great Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. I would like to know, in your opinion, what is the model of holiness that issues from one and the other and the impact they’ve had on the Church and on you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

John XXIII is somewhat the figure of the “country priest,” the priest who loves each one of the faithful, who knows how to care for the faithful and he did this as bishop as well as nuncio. But how many testimonies of false Baptism he did in Turkey in favor of the Jews! He was a courageous man, a good country priest, with such a great sense of humor, so great, and great holiness. When he was nuncio, some didn’t like him so much in the Vatican, and when he arrived to bring things or ask for things, in certain offices they made him wait. He never, never lamented it: he prayed the Rosary, read the Breviary. Also he was one who was concerned for the poor. When Cardinal Casaroli returned from a mission – I believe in Hungary or in what was Czechoslovakia at that time, I don’t remember which of the two – he went to him to explain how the mission was, in that period of diplomacy of “small countries.” And they had the audience – 20 days later John XXIII was dead – and while Casaroli was going, he stopped him: “Ah Eminence – no, he wasn’t Eminence – Excellency, a question: do you continue to go to those youths?” Because Casaroli went to the prison of minors of Casal del Marmo and played with them. And Casaroli said: Yes, yes!” “Don’t ever abandon them.” This to a diplomat, who arrived from a tour of diplomacy, a very demanding trip, John XXIII said: “Don’t ever abandon the boys.” But he was a great man, a great man! Then there is the question of the Council: he was a man who was docile to the voice of God, because what came to him from the Holy Spirit came to him and he was docile. Pius XII thought of doing it, but the circumstances weren’t ripe to do it. I think that he [John XXIII] didn’t think of the circumstances: he felt that and he did it. A man who let himself be guided by the Lord.

Of John Paul II I wish to say he was “the great missionary of the Church”: he was a missionary, a missionary, a man who took the Gospel everywhere, you know it better than me. But how many trips did he make? But he went! He felt the fire of taking forward the Word of the Lord. He is a Paul, he is a Saint Paul, he is such a man; for me this is great. And to do the ceremony of canonization of the two together I believe is a message for the Church: these two are brave, they are brave, they are two brave men. But there is underway the cause of Paul VI and also of Pope Luciani: these two are on the way. But, again something that I believe I said, but I don’t know if here or elsewhere: the date of canonization. We thought December 8 of this year, but there’s a big problem; those who come from Poland, the poor, because those who have means can come by plane, but those who come, the poor, come by bus and in December the roads already have ice and I think the date must be thought out again. I spoke with Cardinal Dziwisz and he suggested two possibilities: either Christ the King of this year or the Sunday of Mercy of next year. I think Christ the King is too short a time for this year, because the Consistory will be on September 30 and at the end of October there is little time, but I don’t know, I must speak with Cardinal Amato about this. But I don’t think it will be December 8.

Question:

But will they be canonized together?

Pope Francis:

Together all two together, yes.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you, Holiness. Who is there still? Ilze? Then we will have given everyone a chance, even more than were registered first …

Ilze Scamparini:

I would like to ask permission to ask a somewhat delicate question: another image has also gone around the world, which is that of Monsignor Ricca and news about your privacy. I would like to know, Holiness, what do you intend to do about this question. How to address this question and how Your Holiness intends to address the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis:

In regard to Monsignor Ricca, I’ve done what Canon Law orders to do, which is the investigatio previa. And from this investigatio there is nothing of which they accuse him, we haven’t found anything of that. This is the answer. But I would like to add something else on this: I see that so many times in the Church, outside of this case and also in this case, they go to look for the “sins of youth,” for instance, and this is published. Not the crimes, alas. Crimes are something else: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, the sins. But if a person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has converted, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is important for our life. When we go to confession and truly say: “I have sinned in this,” the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk that the Lord won’t forget our [sins]. That’s a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. I think so many times of Saint Peter: he committed one of the worst sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope. We must give it much thought. But, returning to your more concrete question: in this case, I’ve done the investigatio previa and we found nothing. This is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay” . They say that they exist. I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. That’s bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said and says: “these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.” The problem isn’t having this tendency, no. We must be brothers, because this is one, but there are others, others. The problem is the lobbying of this tendency: lobby of the avaricious, lobby of politicians, lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This, for me, is the more serious problem. And I thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. It seems to me we can’t do much more. We have even abused the Pope who told us he was a bit tired and we now hope he will rest a bit.

Pope Francis:

Thank you and good night, good trip and good rest.

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