5/22/2013 6:03:00 PM
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Every human person despite his or her beliefs can do good, and a sharing in good works is the prime place for encounter among those who disagree, Pope Francis said at his Mass today.
“The Lord created us in his image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and he does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and avoid evil. All of us,” the Pope taught in his homily May 22 at St. Martha's residence in the Vatican.
“We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, and attended by employees of the Vatican's governorate, or executive branch.
During his homily, the Bishop of Rome reflected on Christ's response to his disciples, who thought that anyone outside their group could not do good.
“If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” This viewpoint, Pope Francis said, “was wrong...Jesus broadens the horizon.”
He went on to explain that all human persons are created in the image of God, who is goodness himself and the source of goodness.
“But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him.”
The pontiff called this view, that only Catholics can do good, an intolerance and a “closing off” that can lead to war and blasphemy. Blasphemy, he explained, includes “killing in the name of God.”
He emphasized the universality of Christ's saving act on the cross as a compliment to the universal call to holiness, regardless of religious belief.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone.”
“Even the atheists. Everyone,” Pope Francis stressed.
He said that the saving blood of Christ “makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good.”
The Pope said that because to do good is inscribed on the human heart and does not derive from creeds, “it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness. And he does good, always.”
Similarly, doing good “is a duty” for all people. The universal commandment to do good, he said, “is a beautiful path towards peace.”
“If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much.”
Noting the memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, he concluded saying, “let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work.”
5/22/2013 2:04:00 PM
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 12:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis thanked the Missionaries of Charity for their work and described one of their houses located inside the Vatican “a beautiful reality” and “a school of charity.”
“I thank all those who in various ways support this beautiful reality of the Vatican,” said Pope Francis during a May 21 evening visit to celebrate the residence’s 25th anniversary.
“This house is a place that teaches charity, a school of charity, that teaches us to go out to every person, not for profit, but out of love,” he stated at the Gift of Mary House.
He noted that “at the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a powerful reminder to all of us, to the Church, to the city of Rome, to always be more of a family, a home in which we are open to welcome, to attention, and to fraternity.”
Blessed John Paul II placed the house under the care of the sisters on May 21, 1998.
“How many people have you fed in these years, how many wounded, above all wounded spiritually, have you cared for!” he emphasized.
“My presence here tonight is to give first of all my heartfelt thanks to the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, working here for 25 years, with many volunteers, in favor of so many people in need of help, thank you!” he told them.
Around 25 homeless women are allowed to live in the residence, and the sisters feed around 60 people each day at the house.
“A home represents the most precious human wealth, that of encounter, that of the relationships between persons of different ages, cultures, and histories who live together and who, together, help one another to grow, and that is what this house has sought to be for 25 years,” said Pope Francis.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, the Pope’s personal secretary, accompanied the pontiff on his 5:30 p.m. visit.
The meeting was held in the courtyard located between the Gift of Mary House, the Palace of the Holy Office and the Atrium of the Paul VI Hall.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri and the Mother General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, welcomed Pope Francis.
The sisters then placed a garland of flowers around the Pope’s neck, following Indian tradition.
Over 100 people were also at the house, including its patrons, employees, friends and guests as well as Missionaries of Charity from other different communities around Rome.
The Pope described the homeless women living at the house as its “gift” and “a gift to the Church.”
“You tell us that loving God and our neighbor is not something abstract but profoundly concrete,” he stated.
“It means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to serve and serving him concretely,” he added.
According to the Pope, people everywhere must recover the entire sense of gift, gratuity and solidarity.
“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, give in order to get, exploitation without looking at persons, and we see the results in the crisis we are living through!” said the pontiff.
Pope Francis noted that another feature of the house is that it is “qualified as a gift of Mary” and she is an example of living charity towards our neighbor, “not out of social duty, but starting from God's love.”
5/22/2013 11:59:00 AM
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 09:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican revealed that its enhanced procedures have enabled it to flag more suspicious transactions in 2012 than it did in 2011.
“I’m not saying that everything is great and perfect, but that a lot of progress has been made in the last two years,” said Rene Brülhart, director of the Financial Information Authority, at the Vatican’s press office.
“It’s important that we’re setting a system here to protect the Holy See,” he added.
The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority made the statistics public at a May 22 press conference, where it made its first-ever annual report available.
The report shows that in 2012 there were six reports of suspicious activity, versus one in 2011.
Brülhart said this proves that his department and its system, which became operational in April 2011, are working well.
The director explained that the six suspicious transactions involved sums of money greater than 10,000 Euros ($13,000) but would not provide additional details.
He also revealed that the Financial Authority asked the Promoter of Justice’s office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to study two of the cases and said that they could be related to money laundering.
He stressed that international cooperation to help combat money laundering was “absolutely key and crucial” and that the Vatican is “a key player in global fight of money laundering.”
The Financial Information Authority was set up to help combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and hired Brülhart as its director just a few months ago.
According to the Swiss native, combating money laundering in the Vatican began back in 2010 after Pope Benedict XVI released a “motu proprio” that laid out the procedures.
“There’s no financial sector in the Vatican, no stock exchange, so it’s a completely different environment,” Brülhart said.
He noted that his office has two functions: to work as an intelligence unit and to supervise the so-called Vatican bank, which is officially called the Institute for Works of Religion.
The Vatican bank also recently received a new president, Ernst von Freyberg, who announced May 13 that it will make its annual report public and launch a website to better inform the public about its mission.
5/22/2013 8:44:00 AM
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 06:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Spirit made it possible for everyone to hear the apostles in their own language on Pentecost, uniting people who were divided, Pope Francis said, calling on Christians to witness to the faith in a way that reconciles and is forgiving.
“We should all ask ourselves: ‘how do I let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit so that my witness of faith is one of unity and communion? Do I bring the message of reconciliation and love that is the Gospel to the places where I live?’” the Pope said in his May 22 message for the general audience.
The descent of the Holy Spirit undid “the dispersion of peoples and the confusion of tongues” that began with the Tower of Babel, the Pope noted, explaining that the men of the time acted with “arrogance and pride” in wanting to build the tower on their “own strength, and without God.”
Pope Francis address to the crowd of around 50,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square was dedicated to examining the phrase from the Creed, “We believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” The talk was part of an ongoing series of reflections during the Year of Faith on the Creed that was started by Benedict XVI.
The pontiff stated that the previous line of the Creed on the Holy Spirit has “a deep connection” to the mission and characteristics of the Church that he dwelt on today.
The Holy Spirit “gives life to the Church, guides her steps. Without the presence and the incessant action of the Holy Spirit, the Church could not live and could not accomplish the task that the Risen Jesus has entrusted her: to go and make disciples of all nations,” the Pope explained.
For that reason, he focused his reflection on three ways that the anointing of the Holy Spirit changes people, marks the Church and prepares it to evangelize.
“Sometimes it seems that what happened at Babel is repeated today; divisions, the inability to understand each other, rivalry, envy, selfishness,” the Holy Father observed.
So he asked the crowd to think about the questions, “What do I do with my life? Do I bring unity? Or do I divide with gossip and envy?”
“Bringing the Gospel means we in the first place must live reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity, love that the Holy Spirit gives us. Let us remember the words of Jesus: ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,’” the Pope said, quoting John 4.
The second way the Spirit prepares believers to share the Gospel is by instilling courage in them, he told the crowd.
“Here is another effect of the Holy Spirit: Courage! – the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel of Jesus to all, with self-confidence (parrhesia), in a loud voice, in every time and in every place,” he said.
“And this happens even today for the Church and for each of us,” Pope Francis insisted, urging people, “never be closed to this action!”
“Because evangelizing, announcing Jesus, evangelizing brings us joy! It energizes us. Being closed up within ourselves brings bitterness. Proclaiming the joy and hope that the Lord brings to world lifts us up!” the Pope proclaimed.
But all of this is not possible without a “faithful and intense relationship with God,” the pontiff said as he moved into his third point.
“I will only mention a third element, but it is particularly important: a new evangelization, a Church that evangelizes must always start from prayer, from asking, like the Apostles in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit.
“Without prayer our actions become empty and our proclamation soulless; it is not animated by the Spirit,” he stressed.
Pope Francis encouraged Christians to entrust themselves to the Holy Spirit because he “enables us to live and bear witness to our faith, and enlighten the hearts of those we meet.”
He finished his thoughts on the connection between the Church and the Holy Spirit by recalling Benedict XVI’s statement that the Church today “especially feels the wind of the Holy Spirit that helps us, shows us the right path, and so, with new enthusiasm, we are on our journey and we thank the Lord.”
At the end of the audience the Pope also offered a special message the Catholic in China, who will celebrate the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians on May 24.
May they proclaim Christ “dead and risen, with humility and joy; be faithful to his Church and the Successor of Peter; and live their everyday lives in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a manner consistent with the faith they profess,” he said.
5/22/2013 5:52:00 AM
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 03:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As he hosted his weekly Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis made his fourth appeal for prayer for the victims of the tornado that killed 24 people in Oklahoma.
Before he greeted all of the English-speaking people at the May 22 general audience, Pope Francis invited everyone present to pray for those who were killed or injured by the May 20 tornado that ravaged the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
The death toll was originally reported as 91 people, including 20 children, but subsequent counts showed that some casualties were counted twice in the chaos. According to the state’s chief medical officer Doctor Eric Pfeifer, the correct number of dead stands at 24, with nine of those being children.
Besides his request at the general audience, the Pope also sent a May 21 message to Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, in which he asked the archbishop to “convey to the entire community the assurance of his solidarity and closeness in prayer.”
“Conscious of the tragic loss of life and the immensity of the work of rebuilding that lies ahead, he asks Almighty God to grant eternal rest to the departed, comfort to the afflicted, and strength and hope to the homeless and injured,” reads the message sent by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
In his first two requests for prayer – during the prayer intentions for his daily Mass and then via Twitter – Pope Francis singled out for particular prayer the tragic death of the children who were killed by the storm.
He repeated that plea in his message to the Oklahoma City archbishop, saying, “in particular way he commends to the Father of Mercies the many young children among the victims and their grieving families.”
“Upon the local civil and religious leaders, and upon all involved in the relief efforts His Holiness invokes the Risen Lord's gifts of consolation, strength and perseverance in every good,” his telegram concluded.
5/21/2013 3:39:00 PM
Vatican City, May 21, 2013 / 01:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While acknowledging that power struggles have existed in the Church since it began, Pope Francis said Jesus’ teaching on power leaves no room for them.
“In the Church the greatest is the one who serves most, the one who is at the service of others,” said Pope Francis on May 21.
“This is the rule, yet from the beginning until now there have been power struggles in the Church, even in our manner of speech,” he said in his homily, which was based on the day’s Gospel reading from Mark 9.
In the reading, Jesus catches the disciples arguing about which of them is the greatest.
“In the Gospel of Jesus, the struggle for power in the Church must not exist because true power, that which the Lord by his example has taught us, is the power of service,” said the Pope.
But the Pope believes the struggle for power in the Church is “nothing new” and that it first appearing when Jesus was forming his disciples.
Pope Francis noted, “when a person is given a job, one that in the eyes of the world is a superior role, they say ‘ah, this woman has been promoted to president of that association, or this man was promoted.’”
“This verb, to promote, yes, it is a nice verb and one we must use in the Church,” he said.
“Yes, he was promoted to the Cross, he was promoted to humiliation,” the Pope remarked.
“True promotion,” he underscored, “is that which makes us seem more like Jesus.”
“If we do not learn this Christian rule, we will never, ever be able to understand Jesus’ true message on power,” said Pope Francis.
“Real power is service as he did, he who came not to be served but to serve, and his service was the service of the Cross,” he said.
The pontiff explained that Jesus “humbled himself unto death, even death on a cross for us, to serve us, to save us and there is no other way in the Church to move forward.”
Pope Francis also drove home his point by recalling that Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of his religious order the Jesuits, asked Jesus for the grace of humiliation.
“This is the true power of the service of the Church, this is the true path of Jesus, true and not worldly advancement,” said the pontiff.
“The path of the Lord is being in his service as he carried out his service, we must follow him, on the path of service, that is the real power in the Church,” he stated.
The congregation included the president and vice-president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti, as well as the director of the magazine Civiltà Cattolica, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro.
Staff from Vatican Radio and the Office of the Vatican City State Governatorate also attended.
During the prayers of the faithful, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on the afternoon of May 20. The twister claimed the lives of at least 91 people, including 20 children.