Vatican News

  • Vatican City, Mar 29, 2017 / 04:56 am (CNA/EWTN News ).- With the battle for major ISIS strongholds heating up in Iraq, Pope Francis has voiced his closeness to the country, praying for the safety of people on the ground, particularly civilians caught in the crosshairs of the fighting. My thoughts go out to civilians trapped in the western districts of Mosul and displaced because of the war, to whom I feel united in suffering, through prayer and spiritual closeness, he said during his March 29 general audience. While expressing deep sorrow for the victims of the bloody conflict, I renew to all the call to engage with every effort in the protection of civilians as an imperative and urgent requirement. During the audience, which took place in St. Peters Square, the Pope greeted a delegation of Iraqi Superintendents representing various religious groups accompanied by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The richness of the beloved Iraqi nation lies in this mosaic which is unity in diversity, strength in union, prosperity in harmony, he said, encouraging them to go forward on this same path. Francis also asked for prayers for Iraq that they might find reconciliation and harmony and peace, unity and prosperity among their different ethnic and religious groups. His appeal followed a sharp rise this week in the number of reported civilian deaths in U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as ground forces backed by the strikes are closing in on two of the Islamic States main urban strongholds: Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. According to the Washington Post, the reports have fueled accusations that the U.S. and its partners may not be acting with sufficient regard for the safety of civilians. During his main address to pilgrims, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the theme of hope, drawing attention to the close connection that exists between the virtue of hope and the virtue of faith. Great hope is rooted in faith, and as such is able to go beyond all hope, he said, because it is not based on our word, but the Word of GodWhen God promises, he accomplishes what he promises. Id like to ask you a question, the Pope said. We, all of us, are we convinced of this? Do we believe that God loves us and that everything he has promised us will be brought to fruition? All we have to do is have an open heart, and God will teach us how to hope and will do miraculous things. The only price, he said, is to open our hearts to faith and he will do the rest. To illustrate the point, Pope Francis drew on the Old Testament story of Abraham and his wife Sarah, quoting the words of St. Paul in the Letter to Romans, that Abraham believed, hoping against hope. Despite the advanced age of he and his wife Sarah, Abraham, did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as dead (he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah, who was barren. We are also called to live this experience and example of faith, Francis said, adding that Abraham, who, even before the evidence of a reality that seems destined for death, trusts in God, fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to bring to completion. Francis said this is a paradox, yet at the same time is the strongest element of our hope. A hope, he said, which is founded on a promise which from the human point of view seems uncertain and unpredictable, but which does not fail even in the face of death. The God who reveals himself to Abraham is the God who saves, the God who has come out of desperation and death, a God who calls to life, he said. In the story of Abraham all becomes a hymn to God who frees and regenerates. And we recognize and celebrate the fulfillment of Gods promises in the mystery of Christs Resurrection at Easter, he explained. Hope, then, is not something we can possess based on human reassurance, but it occurs where there is no hope, where theres nothing left to hope for, just as it did for Abraham, in front of his imminent death and sterility of his wife Sarah. Dear brothers and sisters, today we ask the Lord for the grace to remain founded not so much on our safety, on our own strength, but on the hope drawn by the promise of God, like true children of Abraham, he concluded.
  • Vatican City, Mar 28, 2017 / 11:31 am (CNA/EWTN News ).- Archbishop Rino Fisichella celebrated Mass in St. Peters Basilica to mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of Mother Angelica, saying the nun changed the face of the New Evangelization by riding the digital wave and using to communicate the Gospel in a fresh and appealing way. Before John Paul II spoke of the New Evangelization, (Mother Angelica) was able to do it concretely with television, the new way of communicating the Word of God, Archbishop Fisichella told CNA March 27. Because of this, he said Mother was a New Evangelist, she concretely did the New Evangelization alongside another major saintly personality in the U.S. at the time: Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whose cause for canonization has been opened. Fulton Sheen and Mother Angelica, for the whole Church they are the image, the icon of what the New Evangelization through the new media of communications means, he said. Head of the Vaticans Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Fisichella celebrated Mass March 27 at the altar of St. Joseph inside St. Peters Basilica to mark the one-year anniversary since Mother Angelicas death. Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation founded EWTN in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She died March 27, 2016 Easter Sunday after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years-old. In his homily for the Mass, which was concelebrated by former Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi and attended by journalists from various media outlets as well as Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See Eduard Habsburg, Fisichella praised Mother as someone whose legacy would continue to last. A year after her death, we try to remember her words, her preaching because it was (a type of) preaching her witness and the work she did for the Church, he said. The mystery of death raises questions in all of us, but its still a mystery, he said. We live and we are in front of a death to give sense to our lives. He pointed to the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the days first reading, who said that no longer shall there be an old man who does not round out his full lifetime. I think this word of the prophet can also be applied to Mother Angelica, he said, explaining that the sense of our lives, the sense of her life was determined by an encounter. She encountered Jesus Christ in her life, and for this reason she consecrated her whole life to Christ. Because of this Mother Angelica was above all a woman of faith, he said, and recalled an expression Mother herself frequently recited: my dear friends, faith is what gets you started; hope is what keeps you going; love is what brings you to the end. Mother Angelica, he said, was sustained by faith, she was a witness of hope, but love moved her entire life. Pointing to a passage from the days Gospel from John in which a nobleman, after learning that Jesus healed his son, believed through the Word what Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way. I think that is beautiful to reflect on Mother Angelicas life with this expression, Fisichella said. She believed through the Word that Jesus spoke to her, she believed and there is no other reason. She believed and all that she created was a consequence of this faith, of this encounter of faith. And then she went her way, and her way is what today millions of people can watch, can listen to, can reflect on. EWTN, he said, is not just a television network, but a work and consequence of this vocation, of this encounter of Mother Angelica with Christ. This was her vocation, this she understood as the gift that Jesus himself gave to her. And she did it in a very strong way, he said, noting how she was able to communicate the Gospel on TV sine glossa, meaning without adding or interpreting. At times Mother even caused trouble with people, he said, explaining that every time we announce the Gospel, we give trouble to someone. But what Mother did was offer a challenge. It was above all a challenge to find the sense of your life, especially in a culture in which indifference and atheism is, it seems to be, in first place for many people, he said. Referencing another passage from Isaiah that says they shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyard they plant, the archbishop said Mother Angelica continues to live through EWTNs witness. Mother Angelicas vocation continues to give witness to the world of today, with your ability, capacity, will, to announce the Gospel of the Lord, he told employees of the organization attending the Mass. Fisichella closed his homily with another quote from Mother, who said that everything starts with one person. I dont care if you are five or 105, God from all eternity, chose you to be where you are at this time in history, and he chose you to change the world. We keep these words in our hearts and in our minds, like a new challenge one year after her death, to remember the task that everybody should have in this service to the Church, he said. It doesnt matter if you are five or 105, what is important is that God, from all eternity, chose you. After the Mass veteran Vatican journalist Joan Lewis, Rome Bureau Chief for EWTN and former employee of the Holy See Press Offices Vatican Information Service, recalled the moment when she was commissioned by Mother Angelica after accepting the job as bureau chief. While Mother was already speechless after suffering a debilitating stroke, Lewis told CNA that she approached Mother, who was in a wheelchair, and knelt down so the two could look each other in the face. It was very moving for me because although she couldnt talk, she blessed my ears, my mouth, my hands and my eyes, so that I would use all of those to do what she had done for so many years, which was to bring the Word of the Lord, the teachings of the Church to the world, Lewis said. So it was her example, even when she couldnt speak, that really infused in me the desire to go ahead and do her work, she said, explaining that Mother Angelica was particularly inspiring for what she did as a woman. What a wonderful woman courage she was, of vision, of foresight, a person who just didnt let obstacles get in her way, Lewis said, noting that at the time, women in the United States often still hit a glass ceiling. If you were a woman, you couldnt go any higher you would hit this glass, but un-seen ceiling, she said, but recalled that with Mother Angelica, she never sensed that. There was never a barrier to whom or how she could tell the truth, and I try and remember that when I write. Referring to Archbishop Fisichellas homily, Lewis said his decision to quote Mothers phrase that faith sets you out on the path, hope keeps you going, and love brings you to the end, was particularly moving. It just doesnt get any better.
  • Vatican City, Mar 28, 2017 / 08:55 am (CNA/EWTN News ).- On Tuesday, Pope Francis acknowledged the difficulty of totally eliminating nuclear weapons, but said the challenge is still a necessary undertaking, especially given whats at stake. The ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative, he said in a message to United Nations members March 28. The message was read before the United Nations conference aimed at negotiating a legally binding instrument on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination, held in New York March 27-31. Presented by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy Sees delegation at the meetings, the Popes message acknowledged that the goal is a demanding and forward-looking one. And this is true especially given the present international climate, which is both cause and indication of the difficulties of furthering and strengthening a nuclear ban, he said. If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security, he continued, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges. These combined with the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow the use of nuclear weapons make the goal a moral and ethical necessity, he said. Additionally, the resources spent on nuclear weapon development could be used for more worthy causes, such as poverty, and the promotion of peace and integral human development. Considered to be only the first part of UN meetings to ban and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, the talks are supported by more than 120 countries, as well as numerous disarmament groups. On the other hand, more than 40 countries have declined to participate in the talks, including the United States and most other nuclear powers, such as Britain and Russia. On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki R. Haley led a group of dozens of UN members in boycotting the discussions, saying she did not think that it was the right time to have these talks given the unlikeliness of North Korea banning nuclear weapons, according to the New York Times. In his message, Pope Francis said the conference intends to negotiate a Treaty inspired by ethical and moral arguments. It is an exercise in hope and it is my wish that it may also constitute a decisive step along the road towards a world without nuclear weapons. Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach, he said. International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.
  • Vatican City, Mar 27, 2017 / 10:26 am (CNA/EWTN News ).- After a victim who suffered past clerical abuse resigned from the Vaticans anti-abuse commission, the group is aiming for more effective ways to communicate with survivors and include them in its work. According to a March 26 press release from the commission, members unanimously agreed to find new ways to ensure its work is shaped and informed with and by victims/survivors. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met March 24-26 at the Vatican for their eighth Plenary Assembly since being formed by Pope Francis in Dec. 2013. The session came less than one month after clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins resigned from her position on the commission, citing pushback from certain Vatican dicasteries, specifically from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as one of the main reasons for stepping down. In a March 1 communique announcing her decision, the commission praised Collins as someone who has consistently and tirelessly championed for the voices of the victims/survivors to be heard, and for the healing of the victims/survivors to be a priority for the Church. In their latest meetings, commission members again voiced strong support for Collins and for her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, the press release stated. Members also expressed gratitude that Collins has agreed to continue working with the commission in their educational programs for new bishops and with other offices of the Roman Curia. With relation on how to best include survivors as they go forward, the commissions statement said that they are carefully considering several ideas that have been successfully implemented in other places for recommendation to Pope Francis. In addition, the commission discussed the response to communications from survivors/victims directly to their office and other offices of the Holy See, agreeing that acknowledging correspondence and giving a timely and personal response is one part of furthering transparency and healing. They talked over the importance of responding directly and compassionately, while acknowledging that this is a major undertaking due to the volume of this type of correspondence the Holy See receives. Each letter also requires a large amount of attention in order to give the specific resources and assistance necessary. However, the commission agreed to send further recommendations on this matter to Pope Francis for consideration. The latest plenary session of the PCPM immediately followed an educational seminar held March 23 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The event was co-hosted by the PCPM and the Gregorian Universitys Center for Child Protection. The day-long educational seminar focused on what the local church and institutions are doing to combat abuse of minors specifically in schools and the home, and was attended by at least half a dozen heads of Vatican departments, with every Vatican department represented in some way.
  • Vatican City, Mar 26, 2017 / 04:52 am (CNA/EWTN News ).- On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a key time to open ourselves to the light of Christ and let go of all the false lights that lead us away from him, taking us instead down a path of darkness marked by our own selfishness. If now I were to ask you, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that he can change your heart? Do you think you can see reality as he sees it, not as we do? Do you believe that he is light, that he gives us the true light? the Pope asked March 26, telling pilgrims to respond in silence. The walk in the light of Christ means to convert, he said, explaining that this transformation means above all abandoning false lights. One of these false lights, he said, is the cold and fatuous light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and builds hate against those who we judge without mercy and condemn without an appeal. Gossip is an example of this, he said, noting that to speak badly of others leads away from light, and down the path of darkness. Another false light that is particularly seductive and ambiguous, he said, is personal interest. If we evaluate men and things based on the criteria of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we will not live the truth in relationships and in situations, the Pope said. If we go down this path of seeking only personal interests, we will walk in darkness. Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peters Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing on the days Gospel reading from John which recounts the healing of man blind from birth who, after receiving his sight, recognizes and worships Jesus as the Son of God. With this miracle Jesus manifests himself as the light of the world, Francis said, explaining that the blind man represents each of us, who, blinded by sin, need a new light, that of the faith, which Jesus has given us. Referring to the Gospel passage, Francis noted that it was precisely by opening to the mystery of Christ that the man gained his sight. Francis pointed to the line in the passage where Jesus asks the man do you believe in the Son of Man? and tells him that you have seen him, it is he who is speaking with you. The man then prostrated himself and worshipped Jesus, the Pope observed, saying the episode serves as an invitation to reflect on our own faith in Christ, and to remember the moment we received it in our Baptism. Baptism is the first sacrament of the faith: the sacrament which make us come to the light, through rebirth in water and in the Holy Spirit, he said, noting how the blind mans eyes were opened after bathing in the Pool of Siloam, upon Jesus request. The mans need for healing and rebirth is a sign of the times when we fail to recognize that Jesus is the light of the world, when we look elsewhere, when we prefer to rely on small lights, when we fumble in the darkness. The fact that that blind man didnt have a name, Pope Francis said, helps us to see ourselves with our face and our name in his story. We have also been illuminated by Christ through our Baptism, he said, explaining that because of this, we, like the blind man, are called to act like sons of light. But to do this requires a radical change of mentality, a capacity to judge men and things according to a new scale of values, which comes from God, the Pope said, adding that Baptism itself requires a firm and decisive choice to let go of the false lights, and live as children of the true light of Christ. Francis concluded his address by praying that Mary, welcomed Jesus as the light of the world, would intercede for us in obtaining the grace needed to really welcome the light of faith into our lives during Lent. May this new illumination transform us in attitude and action, so that also we, starting from our poverty, may be bearers of a ray of the light of Christ. After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered special thanks to the diocese of Milan for his March 25 pastoral visit. He also gave a shout-out to Blessed Jos lvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and his 114 martyr companions, who were beatified yesterday in Spain. These priests, religious and laity were heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of fraternal peace and reconciliation, he said, and prayed that their example and intercession would sustain the commitment of the Church in building the civilization of love.
  • Milan, Italy, Mar 25, 2017 / 01:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News ).- In last meeting during his day trip to Milan, Pope Francis issued a harsh criticism of bullying in schools, asking youth to promise him and Jesus to never bully others, and telling teachers to be aware of the problem. There is an ugly phenomenon in education today: bullying. Please, be aware, the Pope said during a March 25 encounter with youth in Milan. He responded to a question posed by a catechist asking how to foster an open dialogue between educators, students and their parents. Among other points, he told teachers to watch out for bullying before addressing the youth about it themselves. I ask you, in silence: in your schools, in your neighborhoods, is there someone that you mock? That you make fun of because they look a little funny, because they are a little fat? That you like to embarrass and hit because of this? the Pope asked. Think about this. This is called bullying, he said, and asked the youth many of whom will receive the sacrament of Confirmation this year to use their Confirmation to make the promise to the Lord to never do this and to pray that it doesnt happen in their schools, neighborhoods or parishes. Understood? Promise me: never, never make fun of, never mock a friend, a neighbor, etc. Do you promise this? he said. Not satisfied with the strength of their answer, he again asked the youth the same question, which was then met with a roaring yes. Think in silence if you do this and if you are able to promise this to Jesus. Promise Jesus to never bully. Pope Francis spoke to a stadium filled with youth at the end of his March 25 daytrip to Milan. The pope started his trip visiting the citys impoverished White Houses complex greeting several of the families who live there, including a Muslim family. He then headed directly to Milans cathedral where he met with the priests and religious before praying the Angelus and eating lunch with inmates at the citys Casa Circondariale di San Vittore prison. After lunch, he celebrated Mass at Milans Parco di Monza for the Feast of the Annunciation, traveling by car after to the Meazza-San Siro Stadium where he met with some 78,000 people, including catechists, volunteers and many of the 45,000 youth who have either received the Sacrament of Confirmation in 2017 or will receive it, along with their parents and family members. After scripture readings and a series of performances by the youth, Francis responded to three of their questions, one of which was posed by a boy named Davide, one by a couple with three children and one by the catechist. In his response to Davides question about what helped him to grow in friendship with Jesus when he himself was young, the Pope said it came down to three main things: his grandparents, playing with his friends and participating in groups at this parish. Francis recalled how one grandfather had told him to never go to bed without saying something to Jesus; tell him goodnight. This reinforcement combined with the prayers he learned from his grandmothers and his mother helped reinforce the faith, he said. Grandparents have the wisdom of life, and with that wisdom they teach us to grow closer to Jesus, he said, urging the youth to talk to their grandparents, ask them whatever questions you want. Listen to what they say. Playing with friends also helps, he said, because in knowing how to play well with others, without insulting each other, you learn to respect others, you learn to make a team, to work together, and this unites us to Jesus. So play with your friends! Parish life is also crucial, he said, and jestingly encouraged the youth to have the same excitement about Mass as they do about their groups and activities. When answering the couples question on how they can transmit the beauty of the faith to their children without sounding boring, annoying or authoritarian, Pope Francis advised them to think of who helped them to grow in the faith. He asked the stadium to take a moment and ponder the answer in silence, explaining that an important figure for him was the priest who baptized him and who was then present throughout his life until he entered the novitiate with the Jesuits. I never, never forget that priest. He was an apostle of the confessional; merciful, good, a hard worker. And so he helped me to grow, the Pope said, explaining that he asked for this reflection because our children watch us constantly; even when we are not aware. On this point, as he often has in the past, Francis warned against the damage it can do to children when they see their parents fight. You dont understand the suffering a child experiences when they see their parents fight, they suffer. And when their parents separate, they pay the price, he said, explaining that when parents bring a child into the world, you must be aware of this. We take responsibility to help this child grow in the faith, he said, and suggested that the couple reach Chapters 1 and 4 of his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, a fruit of the 2014 and 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family. Dedicated to love in marriage and in the family, the Pope told them the chapters, particularly the first, would be helpful, and told them to never forget that when you fight, children suffer and they dont grow in the faith. He also stressed the importance of playing with their children and practicing the works of mercy together, which help nourish faith and family life. Sundays are an especially good day to spend together as a family, he said, but noted that for some this is hard to do, since many have to work on weekends in order to provide for their families. Parents at this time cant or have lost the virtue of playing with their children, he said, explaining that whenever when he hears a parent complaining about their childrens behavior, he often asks if they take time to just sit and play with their children. Many parents dont know how to respond, he said, recalling how he once spoke with a father who only saw his children on the weekends, since he left for work while they were still asleep and came back after they were already in bed. Its this life that takes your humanity, he said, and told parents to play with your children, and transmit the faith.