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Stadler, the first archbishop of Sarajevo. A priest, a Franciscan friar and a nun then spoke about the suffering and persecutions they had experienced during
the war in the Balkans.
The Pope, moved by their words, set aside the discourse he had prepared - extensive extracts of which we publish below - and addressed some off-the-cuff comments to them. "These accounts speak for themselves", he said. "And this is the memory of your people! A people that forgets the past has no future. This is
the memory of your fathers and mothers in the faith: only three people have spoken, but behind them there are many, many others who suffered the same things".
"Dear sisters, dear brothers, you do not have the right to forget your own history. Not for the purpose of revenge, but rather to make peace. Not to look at these testimonies as something odd, but through them to love as they have loved. In your blood, in your vocation, there is the vocation and the blood of these three martyrs. And it is the blood and the vocation of many religious women and men, many priests, many seminarians. ... Keeping memory alive so as to
make peace. Some words struck my heart. One of them, repeated, 'forgiveness'. man, a woman who is consecrated to the Lord's service who does not know how to forgive, is not helpful. To forgive a friend who swore at you, or someone with whom you have argued, or a sister who is jealous of you, this is not all that difficult. But to forgive the one who slaps you in the face, who tortures you, who abuses you, who threatens to shoot you ... this is difficult. And these three
have done it, and they teach others to do it".
"You are blessed who have such witnesses so close to you: do not forget them, please. Your life will grow with this memory. ... Finally, I wish to say to you
that this has been a story of cruelty. Even today, in this world war we see many, many, many acts of cruelty. Do always the opposite of cruelty: have an attitude of tenderness, of brotherhood, of forgiveness. And carry the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Church, holy Mother Church, wants it this way: small, tiny martyrdoms, before these small martyrs, these small witnesses to the Cross of Jesus".
The following is the address Pope Francis had prepared:
"I come to your land as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, to strengthen and to encourage my brothers and sisters in the faith, and in particular you, who are called to work 'full time' in the vineyard of the Lord. He says to us, 'I am with you always, to the close of the age'. This certainty fills us with consolation and hope, especially when your ministry experiences difficulties. think of the sufferings and trials both past and present in your Christian communities. Although you have lived through these circumstances, you did not halt, you endured, and worked hard to confront personal, social and pastoral challenges with a tireless spirit of service. May the Lord bless your efforts.
"I can imagine that the Catholic Church's being numerically a minority in your
country, coupled with the failures that sometime occur in ministry, may at times
make you feel like Jesus' disciples when, although having toiled all night long,
they caught no fish. However, it is precisely in these moments, if we entrust ourselves to the Lord, that we experience the power of His word, the strength of
His Spirit, which renews trust and hope in us. The fruitfulness of our service depends above all on faith: faith in Christ's love, from which, as St. Paul reminds us, and which he know from experience, nothing can separate us! Fraternity within our communities also sustains and strengthens us: fraternity among priests, among men and women religious, among consecrated lay persons, among seminarians. In fact, fraternity among all of us, whom the Lord has called
to leave everything so as to follow Him, gives us joy and consolation, and renders our work ever more fruitful. We are witnesses to fraternity!
"'Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock'. With these words - recorded in
the Acts of the Apostles - St. Paul reminds us that if we want to help others become holy we cannot neglect ourselves, that is, neglect our own sanctification. And vice versa: dedication to God's faithful people, being close
to them in their lives, especially to the poor and the needy, helps us be conformed ever more to Christ. Attention to one's own sanctification and pastoral charity towards people are two sides of the same coin and are mutually
enriching. They must never be separated.
"What does it mean, today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a priest or consecrated person to serve the Lord's flock?", asked the Holy Father. "I think
it means to carry out a pastoral ministry of hope, caring for the sheep that are
in the sheepfold, but also going out in search of those who await the Good News
and who do not know where to find it, or who on their own cannot find their way
to Jesus. It means to meet the people where they live, including those sheep who
are outside the sheepfold, far away, who may not yet have heard of Jesus Christ.
It means taking care of the formation of Catholics in their faith and in their Christian lives. Encouraging the lay faithful to be protagonists in the evangelising mission of the Church. For this reason, I exhort you to develop Catholic communities open and 'going forth', able to welcome and to encounter, and to be courageous in their evangelical witness.
"The priest, the consecrated person, is called to live the anguish and the hope
of the people; to work in concrete circumstances often characterised by tensions, discord, suspicions, insecurities and poverty. Faced with these painful situations, we ask God to grant us hearts that can be moved, capable of
showing empathy; there is no greater witness than to be close to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful. It is the task of us bishops, priests and religious to make the people feel the nearness of God; to feel His comforting and healing hand; to be familiar with the wounds and tears of our people; to never tire of opening our hearts and offering a hand to all who ask us for help,
and to all those who, perhaps because they feel ashamed, do not ask our help, but who are in great need of it. In this regard, I wish to express my deep appreciation to religious sisters for everything they do with such generosity, and above all for their faithful and dedicated presence.
"Dear priests, dear men and women religious, I encourage you to carry out joyfully your pastoral ministry whose effectiveness is the fruit of faith and grace, but also the fruit of a humble life, one detached from worldly concerns.
Please, do not fall into the temptation of becoming a self-absorbed elite. The generous and transparent witness of priestly and religious life sets an example
and gives encouragement to seminarians and to all those whom the Lord calls to serve Him. Standing by the side of young men and women, inviting them to share experiences of service and prayer, you will help them to discover the love of Christ and to open themselves up to the call of the Lord. May the People of God
see in you that faithful and generous love which Christ has left to His disciples as a legacy.
"I wish also to offer a word to you, dear seminarians. Among the many beautiful
examples of priests and consecrated men in your country, we remember in particular the Servant of God Petar Barbaric. His example unites Herzegovina, where he was born, to Bosnia, where he made his religious profession, as he also
unites all priests, diocesan or religious. May this young candidate for the priesthood, whose life was so full of virtue, be a powerful example to each one
The Virgin Mary is always near us, as a caring mother. She is the first disciple of the Lord, the first example of a life dedicated to him and to his brothers. When we find ourselves in difficulty, or when faced with a situation that makes us feel the depth of our powerlessness, let us turn to her with childlike trust. Then she always says to us - as at the wedding at Cana - 'Do whatever he tells you'. She teaches us to listen to Jesus and to follow His word, but to do so with faith! This is her secret, which as a mother, she wishes
to transmit to us: faith, a genuine faith, enough so that even a grain of it can
"By abandoning ourselves in trust, we can serve the Lord with joy, sowing hope
everywhere. I assure you of remembrance in my prayers and I bless each of you and your communities. I ask you please, do not forget to pray for me", concluded
Francis, before imparting his final blessing.
Ecumenical and interreligious meeting: dialogue cannot be confined to the leaders of religious communities
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) - "Today's meeting is a sign of our shared desire for fraternity and peace; it is a testimony to the friendship and cooperation that has been developing over the years and which you already experience daily. To be present here today is already a 'message' of that dialogue which everyone seeks and strives for", said Pope Francis to the participants in the ecumenical and interreligious meeting held in the Franciscan
international study centre of Sarajevo.
The leaders of the Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish communities of Bosnia
and Herzegovina greeted the Holy Father, who recalled one of the fruits of this
desire for encounter and reconciliation - the establishment in 1997 of a local Council for Interreligious Dialogue, bringing together Muslims, Christians and Jews - and congratulated them on their work in promoting dialogue, coordinating
common initiatives and developing relations with State authorities. "Your work in this region is immensely important, particularly in Sarajevo, which stands as
the crossroads of peoples and cultures", he said. "Here, on the one hand, diversity constitutes a great resource which has contributed to the social, cultural and spiritual development of this region, while, on the other, it has also been the cause of painful rifts and bloody wars. It is not by chance that the birth of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and other valuable initiatives in the area of interreligious and ecumenical work came about at the
end of the war, in response to the need for reconciliation and rebuilding a society torn apart by conflict. Interreligious dialogue here, as in every part of the world, is an indispensable condition for peace, and for this reason is duty for all believers".
Francis underlined that interreligious dialogue, before being a discussion of the main themes of faith, is a "conversation about human existence". "This conversation shares the experiences of daily life in all its concreteness, with
its joys and sufferings, its struggles and hopes; it takes on shared responsibilities; it plans a better future for all. We learn to live together, respecting each other's differences freely; we know and accept one another's identity. Through dialogue, a spirit of fraternity is recognised and developed,
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are following, because deafness spreads.
"You may say to me, 'But these people were following the Master, they were busy
listening to the words of the Master. They were intent on Him'. I think that this is one of the most challenging things about Christian spirituality. The Evangelist John tells us, 'How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do
not love your brother whom you do see?'. One of the great temptations we encounter along the way, as we follow Jesus, is to separate these two things - listening to God and listening to our brother - which belong together. We need to be aware of this. The way we listen to God the Father is how we should listen
to His faithful people. To pass by, without hearing the pain of our people, without sinking roots in their lives and in their world, is like listening to the word of God without letting it take root and bear fruit in our hearts. Like
a tree, a life without roots is a one which withers and dies".
The second response to Bartimaeus' cry was to tell him to keep quiet. "Be quiet, don't bother us, don't disturb us, we who are engaged in community prayer, we who have attained a high level of spirituality. Do not bother us, do
not disturb. Unlike the first response, this one hears, acknowledges, and makes
contact with the cry of another person. It recognises that he or she is there, but reacts simply by scolding. There are bishops, priests, nuns, Popes, who wag
their finger like this. ... And the poor faithful people of God, how often they
are affected by the bad mood or the personal situation of one of Jesus' followers. It is the attitude of some leaders of God's people; they continually
scold others, hurl reproaches at them, tell them to be quiet. 'Madam, take your
crying child out of the church while I am preaching'. As if the cry of a child were not a sublime form of sermon'.
This is the drama of the isolated consciousness, of those disciples who think that the life of Jesus is only for those deserve it. At its basis there is a profound disdain for the holy faithful people of God. They seem to believe there
is only room for the 'worthy', for the 'better people', and little by little they separate and differentiate themselves from the others. They have made their
identity a badge of superiority. They are not pastors, but foremen: 'I am here,
now get into your place'. They hear, but they don't listen. The need to show that they are different has closed their heart. Their need to tell themselves, 'I am not like that person, like those people', not only cuts them off from the
cry of their people, from their tears, but most of all from their reasons for rejoicing. Laughing with those who laugh, weeping with those who weep; all this
is part of the mystery of a priestly heart".
Thirdly, they told him to take heart and get up. "It is not so much a direct response to the cry of Bartimaeus as an echo, or a reflection, of the way Jesus
Himself responded to the pleading of the blind beggar. In those who told him to
take heart and get up, the beggar's cry issued in a word, an invitation, a new and changed way of responding to God's holy People. Unlike those who simply passed by, the Gospel says that Jesus stopped and asked what was happening. He stopped when someone cried out to Him. Jesus singled him out from the nameless crowd and got involved in his life. And far from ordering him to keep quiet, He
asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'. He didn't have to show that He
was different, somehow apart; He didn't decide whether Bartimaeus was worthy or
not before speaking to him. He simply asked him a question, looked at him and sought to come into his life, to share his lot. And by doing this He gradually restored the man's lost dignity; He included him. Far from looking down on him,
Jesus was moved to identify with the man's problems and thus to show the transforming power of mercy. There can be no compassion without stopping, hearing and showing solidarity with the other. Compassion is not about zapping,
it is not about silencing pain, it is about the logic of love. A logic, a way of
thinking and feeling, which is not grounded in fear but in the freedom born of love and of desire to put the good of others before all else. A logic born of not being afraid to draw near to the pain of our people. Even if often this means no more than standing at their side and praying with them.
"This is the logic of discipleship, it is what the Holy Spirit does with us and
in us", emphasised the Pope. "We are witnesses of this. One day Jesus saw us on
the side of the road, wallowing in our own pain and misery, in our indifference.
He did not close his ear to our cries. He stopped, drew near and asked what He could do for us. And thanks to many witnesses, who told us, 'Take heart; get up', gradually we experienced this merciful love, this transforming love, which
enabled us to see the light. We are witnesses not of an ideology, of a recipe, of a particular theology. We are witnesses to the healing and merciful love of Jesus. We are witnesses of His working in the lives of our communities. This is
the pedagogy of the Master, this is the pedagogy which God uses with His people.
It leads us to passing from distracted zapping to the point where we can say to
others: 'Take heart; get up. The Master is calling you'. Not so that we can be special, not so that we can be better than others, not so that we can be God's functionaries, but only because we are grateful witnesses to the mercy which changed us. ... And when you live in this way, there is joy and good cheer.
"On this journey we are not alone. We help one another by our example and by our prayers. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Let us think of Blessed
Nazaria Ignacia de Santa Teresa de Jesus, who dedicated her life to the proclamation of God's Kingdom through her care for the aged, her 'kettle of the
poor' for the hungry, her homes for orphaned children, her hospitals for wounded
soldiers and her creation of a women's trade union to promote the welfare of women. Let us also think of Venerable Virginia Blanco Tardio, who was completely
dedicated to the evangelisation and care of the poor and the sick".
"These women, and so many other persons like them - anonymous, many of them - who follow Jesus, are an encouragement to us along our way", exclaimed the bishop of Rome. "May we press forward with the help and cooperation of all. For
the Lord wants to use us to make his light reach to every corner of our world".
To popular movements: the universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech in the Church's social teaching
Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) - The Pope's day in Santa Cruz de la Sierra concluded with his participation in the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, organised in collaboration with the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace" and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, attended by delegates from popular movements from all over the world representing workers in precarious employment and the informal economy, landless farmers, "villeros" (inhabitants of poor areas), indigenous peoples, immigrants, and social movements.
Also present were Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of "Justice and Peace", and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy. The first meeting took place in the Vatican in October 2014, and was attended by the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who yesterday also presented
a discourse in the Expo Feria centre, hosting the event in which three thousand
people have participated.
The following is the full text of the discourse given by Pope Francis:
"Good afternoon! Several months ago, we met in Rome, and I remember that first
meeting. In the meantime I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. I am happy
to see you again, here, as you discuss the best ways to overcome the grave situations of injustice experienced by the excluded throughout our world. Thank
you, President Evo Morales, for your efforts to make this meeting possible. During our first meeting in Rome, I sensed something very beautiful: fraternity,
determination, commitment, a thirst for justice. Today, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, I sense it once again. I thank you for that. I also know, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Turkson, that many people in the Church feel very close to the popular movements. That makes me very happy! I am pleased to see the Church opening her doors to all of you, embracing you, accompanying you and establishing in each diocese, in every justice and peace commission, a genuine, ongoing and serious cooperation with popular movements. I ask everyone, bishops, priests and laity, as well as the social organisations of the urban and rural peripheries, to deepen this encounter.
"Today God has granted that we meet again. The Bible tells us that God hears the cry of his people, and I wish to join my voice to yours in calling for land,
lodging and labour for all our brothers and sisters. I said it and I repeat it:
these are sacred rights. It is important, it is well worth fighting for them. May the cry of the excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.
"Let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed. Here I would clarify, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I am speaking about problems common to
all Latin Americans and, more generally, to humanity as a whole. They are global
problems which today no one state can resolve on its own. With this clarification, I now propose that we ask the following questions.
"Do we realise that something is wrong in a world where there are so many farmworkers without land, so many families without a home, so many labourers without rights, so many persons whose dignity is not respected? Do we realise that something is wrong where so many senseless wars are being fought and acts of fratricidal violence are taking place on our very doorstep? Do we realise something is wrong when the soil, water, air and living creatures of our world are under constant threat? So let's not be afraid to say it: we need change; we
"In your letters and in our meetings, you have mentioned the many forms of exclusion and injustice which you experience in the workplace, in neighbourhoods
and throughout the land. They are many and diverse, just as many and diverse are
the ways in which you confront them. Yet there is an invisible thread joining every one of those forms of exclusion: can we recognise it? These are not isolated issues. I wonder whether we can see that these destructive realities are part of a system which has become global. Do we realise that that system has
imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature?
"If such is the case, I would insist, let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change. This system is by now intolerable: farmworkers find it intolerable, labourers find it intolerable, communities find
it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable ... The earth itself - our sister, Mother Earth, as St. Francis would say - also finds it intolerable. We want change in our lives, in our neighbourhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for
global answers to local problems. The globalisation of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalisation of exclusion and indifference.
"Today I wish to reflect with you on the change we want and need. You know that
recently I wrote about the problems of climate change. But now I would like to speak of change in another sense. Positive change, a change which is good for us, a change - we can say - which is redemptive. Because we need it. I know that
you are looking for change, and not just you alone: in my different meetings, in
my different travels, I have sensed an expectation, a longing, a yearning for change, in people throughout the world. Even within that ever smaller minority which believes that the present system is beneficial, there is a widespread sense of dissatisfaction and even despondency. Many people are hoping for a change capable of releasing them from the bondage of individualism and the
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the elderly or disabled, 1,090 orphanages and nurseries, 981 family advisory centres and other centres for the protection of life, and 4,295 special centres
for social education or re-education and institutions of other types.
Participants in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
Vatican City, 15 September 2015 (VIS) - The following is a full and definitive
list of the participants in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held from 4 to 25 October 2015, on the theme, "The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world".
A. LIST OF SYNOD FATHERS ACCORDING TO ROLE
Francis, Supreme Pontiff
II. SECRETARY GENERAL
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri
III. DELEGATE PRESIDENTS
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France
Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines
Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa
IV. RAPPORTEUR GENERAL
Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Episcopal Conference, Hungary, president of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (C.C.E.E.)
V. SPECIAL SECRETARY
Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy
VI. COMMISSION FOR INFORMATION
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social
Communications, Vatican City
Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, Vatican City
VII. FROM THE ORIENTAL CATHOLIC CHURCHES
Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church
His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, head
of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church.
Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church
His Beatitude Gregoire III Laham, B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, head of the Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church.
Archbishop Georges Bacouni of Akka, St. John of Acri, Ptolemaida of the Greek-Melkites.
Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church
His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, head of the Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church
Synod of the Maronite Church
His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the
Maronites, head of the Synod of the Maronite Church.
Bishop Antoine Nabil Andari, auxiliary and syncellus of Joubbe, Sarba and Jounieh of the Maronites, president of the Episcopal Commission for the Family and Life.
Bishop Antoine Tarabay, O.L.M., of Saint Maron of Sydney of the Maronites.
Synod of the Chaldean Church
His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, head
of the Synod of the Chaldean Church.
Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church
His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church.
Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, head of the
Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.
Bishop Hlib Borys Sviatoslav Lonchyna of Holy Family of London of the Byzantine
Bishop Borys Gudziak of Saint Vladimir-Le-Grand of Paris of the Byzantine Ukrainians.
Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church
His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, president of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai of the Syro-Malabars.
Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur of the Syro-Malabars.
Synod of the Syro-Malankara Church
His Beatitude Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankarites, head of the Synod of the Syro-Malankara Church.
Synod of the Romanian Church
Bishop Mihai Catalin Fratile of St. Basil the Great of Bucarest of the Romanians.
Council of the Ethiopian Church
Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., president of the Episcopal Conference, metropolitan archbishop of Addis Abeba, president of the Council of
the Ethiopian Church.
Council of the Church Ruthenian, U.S.A.
Archbishop William Charles Skurla, metropolitan of Pittsburg of the Byzantines,
president of the council of the Ruthenian Church.
Council of the Slovak Church
Archbishop Jan Babjak, S.J., metropolitan of Presov for Catholics of Byzantine
rite, president of the Council of the Slovak Church.
Council of the Eritrean Church
Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamarian, M.C.C.J., metropolitan of Asmara, president
of the council of the Eritrean Church.
Council of the Hungarian Church
Archbishop Fulop Kocsis, metropolitan of Hajdudorog for Catholics of Byzantine
rite, president of the Council of the Hungarian Church.
VIII. ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES
NORTHERN AFRICA (C.E.R.N.A.)
Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco, O.P., of Oran, Algeria
ANGOLA and SAO TOME
Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of Uije, Angola
Bishop Eugene Cyrille Houndekon of Abomey, vice president of the Episcopal Conference
BOTSWANA, SOUTH AFRICA and SWAZILAND
Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, Kaapstad, president of the Episcopal Conference, South Africa
Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.I., of Kokstad, South Africa
BURKINA FASO and NIGER
Bishop Joseph Sama of Nouna, Burkina Faso
Bishop Gervais Banshimiyubasa of Ngozi, president of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Joseph Atanga, S.J., of Bertoua
Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Henri Coudray, S.J., apostolic vicar of Mongo
Bishop Urbain Ngassongo of Gamboma, president of the Episcopal Commission for Family Pastoral Ministry
CONGO (Democratic Republic)
Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe
Bishop Philibert Tembo Nlandu, C.I.C.M., of Budjala
Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola, president of the Commission Episcopale Nationale de l'Apostolat des LaNcs
ETHIOPIA and ERITREA
Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derara, apostolic vicar of Soddo, Ethiopia
Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila, president of the Episcopal Conference
GAMBIA and SIERRA LEONE
Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell of Bo, Sierra Leone
Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra
Bishop Raphael Balla Guilavogui of N'Zerekore
Bishop Juan Matogo Oyana, C.M.F., of Bata
Cardinal John NJUE, archbishop of Nairobi
Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu of Muranga
Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, O.M.I., of Maseru, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah of Gbarnga
Bishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, president of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, S.M.M., of Blantyre, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Jonas Dembele of Kayes
Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, O.F.M. Cap., of Maputo, president of the Episcopal Commission for the Family
Bishop Philipp Pollitzer, O.M.I., of Keetmanshoop
Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna
Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh of Ikot Ekpene
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade of Ondo
INDIAN OCEAN (C.E.D.O.I.)
Bishop Maurice Piat, C.S.Sp., of Port-Louis, Mauritius, president of the Episcopal Conference
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa of Alindao
Bishop Antoine Kambanda of Kibungo
SENEGAL, MAURITANIA, CABO VERDE and GUINEA-BISSAU
Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal, president of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, M.C.C.J., of Juba
Bishop Tarcisius J. M. Ngalalekumtwa of Iringa, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Renatus Leonard Nkwande of Bunda
Bishop Jacques Danka Longa of Kara
Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa of Kiyinda-Mityana, vice president of the Episcopal
Bishop Benjamin Phiri, auxiliary of Chipata
Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani of Gweru
Bishop Francis Alleyne, O.S.B., of Georgetown
Bishop Pedro Maria Laxague, auxiliary of Bahia Blanca, president of the Comisi<n Episcopal de Laicos y Familia
Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, president of the Episcopal Conference
Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, archbishop of Buenos Aires
Bishop Braulio SAEZ GARCIA, O.C.D., auxiliary of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Bishop Krzysztof Janusz BIALASIK WAWROWSKA, S.V.D., of Oruro
Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Joao Carlos Petrini of Camacari
Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana
Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo
Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Noel Simard of Valleyfield
Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto
Archbishop Richard William Smith of Edmonton
Bishop Bernardo Miguel Bastres Florence, S.D.B., of Punta Arenas
Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., archbishop of Santiago de Chile, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Pablo Emiro Salas Anteliz of Armenia
Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (C.E.L.AM.)
Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio
Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago, president of the Comisi<n Episcopal para la Pastoral Familiar
Bishop Marcelo Arturo Gonzalez Amador of Santa Clara
Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil
Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, O.F.M., of Cuenca
Bishop Constantino Barrera Morales of Sonsonate
Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela Nunez of Vera Paz, Coban, president of the Episcopal
Bishop Yves-Marie Pean, C.S.C., of Les Gonaives
Bishop Luis Sole Fa, C.M., of Trujillo
Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez of Tehuacan
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico
Bishop Alfonso Gerardo Miranda Guardiola, auxiliary of Monterrey
Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Cesar Bosco Vivas Robelo of Leon en Nicaragua
Bishop Anibal Saldana Santamaria, O.A.R., prelate of Bocas del Toro
Bishop Miguel Angel Cabello Almada of Concepcion en Paraguay
Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho o Huamanga, president of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, O.F.M., of Trujillo
Archbishop Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves, O.F.M., of San Juan de Puerto Rico,
president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Gregorio Nicanor Pena Rodriguez of Nuestra Se+ora de la Altagracia en Higney, president of the Episcopal Conference
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville, president of the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia
Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Vice president of
the Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles
Bishop Jaime Rafael Fuentes Martin of Minas
Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Santiago de Venezuela
Archbishop Diego Rafael Padron Sanchez of Cumana, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi, C.S.C., of Mymensingh, president of Episcopal Family Life Commission
Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-Mien of Hsinchu
Bishop Peter Kang U-Il of Cheju
Archbishop Romulo G. Valles of Davao
Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu
Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera of Daet
Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, P.S.S., of Nagasaki, vice president of the Episcopal Conference
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, president of Episcopal Conference
Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao Do Rosario Ferrao, archbishop of Goa and Damao
Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of Punalur
Archbishop Dominic Jala, S.D.B., of Shillong
Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardojoatmodjo of Jakarta, president of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung of Larantuka
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Sat Sep 26 08:36:02 2015
power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offence against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offences, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today's widespread and quietly growing 'culture of waste'.
"The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective
solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.
"Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, although they are certainly a necessary step toward solutions. The classic definition of justice which I mentioned earlier contains as one of its essential elements a constant and perpetual will: Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius sum cuique tribuendi. Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its
baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organised
crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.
"The number and complexity of the problems require that we possess technical instruments of verification. But this involves two risks. We can rest content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals - goals, objectives and statistics - or we can think that a single theoretical and
aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges. It must never
be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programmes, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.
"To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must
be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which
human social life develops - friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc. This presupposes and requires the right to education - also for girls (excluded in certain places) - which is
ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social
groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030
Agenda and for reclaiming the environment.
"At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and all other civil rights.
"For all this, the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and
drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education. These pillars of integral human development have a common foundation,
which is the right to life and, more generally, what we could call the right to
existence of human nature itself.
"The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species. The baneful consequences of an
irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: 'man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature'. Creation is compromised 'where
we ourselves have the final word... The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognise any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves'. Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognise a moral law written into human nature itself,
one which includes the natural difference between man and woman, and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions.
"Without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development, the ideal of 'saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war', and 'promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom', risks becoming an unattainable illusion, or, even worse, idle chatter
which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonisation by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people's identity and, in the end, irresponsible.
"War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and peoples. To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and
arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes
truly a fundamental juridical norm. The experience of these seventy years since
the founding of the United Nations in general, and in particular the experience
of these first fifteen years of the third millennium, reveal both the effectiveness of the full application of international norms and the ineffectiveness of their lack of enforcement. When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied with transparency and sincerity, and without ulterior motives, as an obligatory reference point of justice and not as a means
of masking spurious intentions, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the
other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favourable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora's box is
opened, releasing uncontrollable forces which gravely harm defenceless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment.
"The Preamble and the first Article of the Charter of the United Nations set forth the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between the nations. Strongly opposed to such statements, and in practice denying them,
is the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass distraction, such as nuclear weapons. An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction - and possibly the destruction of all mankind - are
self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations,
which would end up as 'nations united by fear and distrust'. There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.
"The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of
Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of
law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.
"In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community. For this reason, while regretting to have to do
so, I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians,
together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority
religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and
religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their
own lives, or by enslavement.
"These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests,
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Sep 28 08:24:02 2015
A pastor watches over the dreams, the lives and the growth of his flock. This 'watchfulness' is not the result of talking but of shepherding. Only one capable
of standing 'in the midst of' the flock can be watchful, not someone who is afraid of questions, contact, accompaniment. ... Naturally, experiencing the spirit of this joyful familiarity with God, and spreading its powerful evangelical fruitfulness, has to be the primary feature of our lifestyle as bishops: a lifestyle of prayer and preaching the Gospel. The bishop is charged to be a pastor, but to be a pastor first and foremost by his prayer and preaching, because everything else follows, if there is time".
"By our own humble Christian apprenticeship in the familial virtues of God's people, we will become more and more like fathers and mothers ... and less like
people who have simply learned to live without a family. Our ideal is not to live without love! A good pastor renounces the love of a family precisely in order to focus all his energies, and the grace of his particular vocation, on the evangelical blessing of the love of men and women who carry forward God's plan of creation, beginning with those who are lost, abandoned, wounded, broken,
downtrodden and deprived of their dignity. This total surrender to God's agape is certainly not a vocation lacking in tenderness and affection. We need but look to Jesus to understand this".
"For faith, this is a most valuable sign. Our ministry needs to deepen the covenant between the Church and the family. Otherwise it becomes arid, and the human family will grow irremediably distant, by our own fault, from God's joyful
good news, and will go to the latest supermarket to buy whatever product suits them then and there".
"If we prove capable of the demanding task of reflecting God's love, cultivating infinite patience and serenity as we strive to sow its seeds in the
frequently crooked furrows in which we are called to plant, then even a Samaritan woman with five 'non-husbands' will discover that she is capable of giving witness. And for every rich young man who with sadness feels that he has
to calmly keep considering the matter, an older publican will come down from the
tree and give fourfold to the poor, to whom, before that moment, he had never even given a thought".
"My brothers, may God grant us this gift of a renewed closeness between the family and the Church. Families need it, the Church needs it, and we pastors need it".
It is painful to see prison systems that do not care for wounds, soothe pain or
offer new possibilities: the Pope to inmates at Curran-Fromhold penitentiary
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) - After addressing the visiting bishops,
the Pope transferred by helicopter to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility,
Philadelphia's largest male prison, which holds 2,800 inmates. Francis met with
one hundred of them, along with the directors of the Centre, who awaited him in
After hearing greetings from some of the detainees and receiving a gift that they had made for him, a chair, Francis thanked those present for welcoming him
and giving him the opportunity to share this moment in their lives. "It is a difficult time, one full of struggles. I know it is a painful time not only for
you, but also for your families and for all of society. Any society, any family,
which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society 'condemned' to remain hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain. I am here as pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that
causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection".
The Pope spoke about the Gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper. "This was something his disciples found hard to accept. Even Peter refused, and told him: 'You will never wash my feet'. In those days, it was the custom to wash someone's feet when they came to your home. That was how they welcomed people. The roads were not paved, they were covered with dust, and little stones would get stuck in your sandals. Everyone walked those roads, which left their feet dusty, bruised or cut from those stones. That is why we see Jesus washing feet, our feet, the feet of His disciples, then and now".
"We all know that life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us", said the Pope. "We also know in faith that Jesus
seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet which hurt from travelling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey. He doesn't ask us where we have been, He doesn't question us what about we have done. Rather, He tells us: 'Unless I wash your feet, you have no share with me'.
Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the Father always dreamed of, the life for which he created you. Jesus comes to meet
us, so that He can restore our dignity as children of God. He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realise
that we have a mission, and that confinement is never the same thing as exclusion".
"Life means 'getting our feet dirty' from the dust-filled roads of life and history", he continued. "All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us.
Myself, first and foremost. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, Who wants to help us resume our journey. The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us
He stretches out a helping hand. It is painful when we see prison systems which
are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need
to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognise that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society. The Lord tells us this clearly with a sign: He washes our feet so we can come back to the table. The table from which He wishes no one to be excluded. The table which is spread
for all and to which all of us are invited".
"This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and
enable your rehabilitation. A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires: inmates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs. A rehabilitation which benefits and elevates the morale of the entire
community and society. I encourage you to have this attitude with one another and with all those who in any way are part of this institution. May you make possible new opportunities; may you blaze new trails, new paths. All of us have
something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. All of us. May the knowledge of this fact inspire us all to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others".
"Let us look to Jesus, Who washes our feet", concluded Francis "He is 'the way,
and the truth, and the life'. He comes to save us from the lie that says no one
can change, the lie of thinking that no one can change. Jesus helps us to journey along the paths of life and fulfilment. May the power of His love and His resurrection always be a path leading you to new life".
Concluding Mass at the World Meeting of Families: God wants all His children to
take part in the feast of the Gospel
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) - Hundreds of thousands of people attended the concluding Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families celebrated
by Pope Francis in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway yesterday at 4 p.m.
local time (10 p.m. in Rome). During the event, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, announced that the next Meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2018.
In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy,
which present the scandal of the people before the miracles and the unexpected prophecies. In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God's word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. "Here is the surprise", remarked the Pope. "Moses
and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all
could be prophets of God's word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the
Jesus encountered "hostility from people who did not accept what He said and did. For them, His openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God's chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalised by the freedom of God, Who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected. Once
we realise this, we can understand why Jesus' words about causing 'scandal' are
so harsh. For Jesus, the truly 'intolerable' scandal consists in everything that
breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit".
"Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and He continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of His presence in our world, for 'love consists in
this, not that we have loved God but that He loved us' first. That love gives us
a profound certainty: we are sought by God; He waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things
happening all around them. God wants all His children to take part in the feast
of the Gospel. Jesus says, 'Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help
it to grow!' To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not 'part of our group', who are not 'like us', is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith".
"Faith opens a 'window' to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us
that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. 'Whoever gives
you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded', says Jesus. These little
gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day's work. Love is shown by little
things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes,
are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith".
"Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, He wants us to
encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of His own living and
active presence in our world. So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It
is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge
of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown".
"We Christians, the Lord's disciples, ask the families of the world to help us!" exclaimed Francis. "How many of us are here at this celebration. This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today's world. Would that we could all be prophets. Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Oct 26 10:03:02 2015
special paragraphs dedicated to immigrants, refugees and persecuted families who
are often divided and whose members can become victims of trafficking. A welcoming approach was invoked for them too, recalling their rights and also their duties in their host countries.
There are specific paragraphs on women, men and children, the mainstays of family life: the text emphasises the need for the protection and the recognition
of the value of their respective roles. It is hoped that a more prominent role will be identified for women in the formation of ordained ministers, while in relation to children mention was made of the beauty of adoption and fostering, practices which reconstruct ruptured family bonds. The Synod does not forget widows and widowers, the disabled, the elderly and grandparents, who enable the
transmission of faith in the family and must be protected from the throwaway culture. Unmarried people must also be acknowledged for their commitment to the
Church and society.
Among the "shadows" that are frequently cast on the family, the Synod notes the
presence of political and religious fanaticism hostile to Christianity, growing
individualism, gender ideology, conflicts, persecution, poverty, precarious employment, corruption, economic difficulties that can exclude families from education and culture, the globalisation of indifference in which humanity's place at the centre of society is usurped by money, pornography, and the declining birth rate.
The Relation therefore gathers together suggestions for strengthening preparation for marriage, especially for the young who appear intimidated by it.
They are in need, says the Synod, of an adequate emotional formation, following
the virtues of chastity and self-giving. In this regard, mention was made of the
bond between the sexual act and procreation between spouses, of which children are the most precious fruit, since they bear the memory and hope of an act of love. Another bond is that between the vocation of the family and the vocation to consecrated life. Education in sexuality and corporeality and the promotion of responsible parenting would also be central, in accordance with the teachings
of Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae" and the primary role of parents in the education of their children in faith.
An appeal is launched to institutions to promote an support policies in favour
of the family, and Catholics engaged in politics are exhorted to protect the family and life, as a society that neglects them loses its openness to the future. In this respect, the Synod reaffirms the sacredness of life from conception to natural death, and warns against the grave threats posed to the family by abortion and euthanasia. Further paragraphs are dedicated to mixed marriages, whose positive aspects in relation to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue are underlined, while confirming the need to protect religious freedom
and the right to conscientious objection in society.
The text includes extensive reflection on the need to modify the language of the Church, making it more meaningful so that the proclamation of the Gospel of
the family may truly respond to the deepest human aspirations. This means not only presenting a series of regulations but rather announcing the grace that gives the capacity to live well the good of the family.
Finally, the Relatio emphasises the beauty of the family: as a domestic church
based on marriage between a man and a woman, the fundamental cell of the society
whose growth it contributes, a safe entry to the deepest sentiments, the sole point of connection in a fragmented age, and an integral part of human ecology,
it must be protected, supported and encouraged, also by the authorities.
The document concludes by a plea to the Synod Fathers by the Pope, regarding the possibility of producing a document on the family. As Fr. Lombardi explains,
"The Synod Fathers do not say that all is complete, but affirm that they offer the Relatio to the Holy Father to enable him to evaluate whether to continue on
this route with a document, on the basis of the Synod text, to further examine the theme of the family from the perspective he wishes to offer. 'We continue on
Closing Mass of the Synod: what the people sow today in tears, they will reap tomorrow in joy
Vatican City, 24 October 2015 (VIS) - This Sunday the Pope celebrated Mass for
the conclusion of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In
his homily, he reflects on the day's three readings that show us the compassion
and paternity of God, revealed in Jesus.
"In the midst of a national disaster, the people deported by their enemies, the
prophet Jeremiah proclaims that 'the Lord has saved His people, the remnant of Israel'. Why did He save them? Because He is their Father; and as a Father, He takes care of His children and accompanies them on the way, sustaining 'the blind and the lame, the women with child and those in labour'. His fatherhood opens up for them a path forward, a way of consolation after so many tears and great sadness. If the people remain faithful, if they persevere in their search
for God even in a foreign land, God will change their captivity into freedom, their solitude into communion: what the people sow today in tears, they will reap tomorrow in joy.
"We too have expressed, with the Psalm, the joy which is the fruit of the Lord's salvation: 'our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy'. A believer is someone who has experienced God's salvific action
in his life. We pastors have experienced what it means to sow with difficulty, at times in tears, and to rejoice for the grace of a harvest which is beyond our
strength and capacity. The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews shows us Jesus' compassion. He also 'is beset with weakness', so that He can feel compassion for those in ignorance and error. Jesus is the great high priest, holy and innocent, but also the high priest Who has taken on our weakness and been tempted like us in all things, save sin. For this reason He is the mediator
of the new and definitive covenant which brings us salvation.
"Today's Gospel is directly linked to the First Reading: as the people of Israel were freed thanks to God's fatherhood, so too Bartimaeus is freed thanks
to Jesus' compassion. Jesus has just left Jericho. Even though He has only begun
His most important journey, which will take Him to Jerusalem, He still stops to
respond to Bartimaeus' cry. Jesus is moved by his request and becomes involved in his situation. He is not content to offer him alms, but rather wants to personally encounter him. He does not give him any instruction or response, but
asks him: 'What do you want me to do for you?'. It might seem a senseless question: what could a blind man wish for if not his sight? Yet, with this question made face to face, direct but respectful, Jesus shows that He wants to
hear our needs. He wants to talk with each of us about our lives, our real situations, so that nothing is kept from Him. After Bartimaeus' healing, the Lord tells him: 'Your faith has made you well'. It is beautiful to see how Christ admires Bartimaeus' faith, how He has confidence in him. He believes in us, more than we believe in ourselves.
"There is an interesting detail. Jesus asks His disciples to go and call Bartimaeus. They address the blind man with two expressions, which only Jesus uses in the rest of the Gospel. First they say to him: 'Take heart!', meaning 'have faith, strong courage!'. Indeed, only an encounter with Jesus gives a person the strength to face the most difficult situations. The second expression
is 'Rise!', as Jesus said to so many of the sick, whom He took by the hand and healed. His disciples do nothing other than repeat Jesus' encouraging and liberating words, leading him directly to Jesus, without lecturing him. Jesus' disciples are called to this, even today, especially today: to bring people into
contact with the compassionate Mercy that saves. When humanity's cry, like Bartimaeus', becomes stronger still, there is no other response than to make Jesus' words our own and, above all, imitate His heart. Moments of suffering and
conflict are for God occasions of mercy. Today is a time of mercy.
"There are, however, some temptations for those who follow Jesus. ... None of the
disciples stopped, as Jesus did. They continued to walk, going on as if nothing
were happening. If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem. This can be a danger for us: in the face of constant problems, it
is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered. In this way, just like the disciples, we are with Jesus but we do not think like Him. ... We
are able to speak about Him and work for Him, but we live far from His heart, which is reaching out to those who are wounded. This is the temptation: a 'spirituality of illusion'".
"There is a second temptation, that of falling into a 'scheduled faith'. We are
able to walk with the People of God, but we already have our schedule for the journey, where everything is listed: we know where to go and how long it will take; everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother. ... Jesus,
on the other hand, wants to include, above all those kept on the fringes who are
crying out to Him. They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus".
"Dear Synod Fathers, we have walked together", he concluded. "Thank you for the
path we have shared with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our brothers and sisters, in the search for the paths which the Gospel indicates for our times so that we
can proclaim the mystery of family love. Let us follow the path that the Lord desires. Let us ask Him to turn to us with His healing and saving gaze, which knows how to radiate light, as it recalls the splendour which illuminates it. Never allowing ourselves to be tarnished by pessimism or sin, let us seek and look upon the glory of God, which shines forth in men and women who are fully alive".
The first to walk with us is our Father
Vatican City, 26 October 2015 (VIS) - Following the Holy Mass for the conclusion of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated
in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Before the Marian prayer, the Pope invited those present to "give thanks to God
for these three weeks of intense work, inspired by prayer and by a spirit of authentic communion. It has been arduous but it was a true gift from God, which
will surely bear many fruits". He explained that "the word 'Synod' means 'to walk together' and reflected on the Synod experience, also mentioning the continuing refugee crisis.
"This Word of God tells us that the first Who wishes to walk together with us,
to have a 'synod' with us is ... our Father. His 'dream' is, and has always been,
to form a people, to bring them together, leading them toward the land of freedom and peace. And this people is made up of families, the 'mothers and those with child'; it is a people that, as it proceeds, perpetrates life, with God's blessing. ... I confess to you that I compare this prophecy of the journeying people with the images of refugees on the streets of Europe, a dramatic situation in our days. God too says to them, 'They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water'. Even those families who suffer the most, who have been uprooted from their lands, were present with us in the Synod, in our prayers and in our work, through the voices of some of their pastors present in the Assembly. These people in search of dignity, these families looking for peace are still with us.
The Church does not abandon them, because they belong to the people that God wants to free from slavery and lead to freedom".
After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from several countries, especially the Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles of Rome, "who with
great devotion have brought the image venerated in Lima, Peru", the musical pilgrims of the "Musikverein Manhartsberg" from the Austrian diocese of Vienna and the Orchestra of Landwehr, Fribourg, Switzerland, who had performed in a concert for charity the previous day.