Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—The third General Congregation of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened on Tuesday morning with the celebration of Terce (mid-morning prayer).
The homily for the Liturgy was delivered by Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Major Archbishop and President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.
In his homily, Cardinal Alencherry reminded the Synod Fathers that “the pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take upon their lives a prophetic role of suffering and kenosis.”
Previously, Pope Francis took center stage and recalled that a synod is not a parliament or senate, where people do deals and make compromises, but rather a journeying together of the people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. His readings centered on three themes, “solitude, love between man and women, and the family.”
The First Reading came from the book of Genesis – the Lord giving Adam a helpmate. Pope Francis, reflecting on Adam’s loneliness, likened it to the drama of solitude experienced by men and women today – especially the elderly, widows and widowers and those left by their spouses. He said that many today are lonely because they are misunderstood and unheard – referring particularly to migrants and refugees.
The Holy Father went on to say that we experience “the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families.” He spoke of the growing interior loneliness that many in the world experience. He said that we live in a time when we have “many liberties, but little freedom.”
Speaking on the family Pope Francis said that people today are “less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad.”
He went on to say, “Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.”
Pope Francis said that God did not make men and women to live in sorrow or alone but, rather, for happiness.
Reflecting on Mark’s Gospel, the Holy Father said that Jesus was asked a rhetorical question to trap him and make him unpopular with the crowd: “Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?” In answer, he said, Jesus “responds in a straightforward and unexpected way.” The Pope said that he brings everything back to the beginning of creation: “to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility.”
When Jesus says “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” exhorts believers to “overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan,” the Pope said.
“For God marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures are doomed to solitude! Being afraid to accept his plan paralyses the human heart,” the Holy Father said.
He said that it was paradoxical that people today ridicule this plan and yet continue to be attracted and fascinated by authentic love. “We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love, they chase carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.”
The Holy Father said that it was in this “extremely difficult social and marital context” that the Church was to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.”
He said that the Church must be faithful to her Master’s voice and in so doing defend the sacredness of life, the unity and indissolubility of marriage, and be a sign of God’s grace and of the human ability to love seriously.
The truth, Pope Francis said, is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. “The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds.”
Quoting his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father said “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love.”
Speaking about the Church’s mission “in charity” Pope Francis used the image of a mother “conscious of her duty to seek and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy.” He spoke of the Church as a “field hospital” with “doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support.”
The Holy Father said that the Church teaches and defends fundamental values yet does not forget “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27) He also reminded us that Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:17).
At the end of the homily Pope Francis quoted Pope St. John Paul II: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time.” He said that the Church must search out these persons to welcome and accompany them and not become a “roadblock” but a “bridge.”
Source: Vatican Radio
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Meriam Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to
death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived Thursday in Italy
and met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. During the meeting, she was
accompanied by her family: Husband Daniel Wani, Martin (a year and a half), and
Maya, born in prison two months ago.
Her family was accompanied by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who
helped arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy.
The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the meeting
took place in a “very serene and affectionate” environment, and Pope Francis
thanked Meriam for her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith.”
Fr. Lombardi said Meriam thanked the Pope for his prayers, saying they provided great
support and encouragement.
The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier welcomed Meriam and her family at
Rome’s Ciampino airport, calling it “a day of celebration.”
Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, since her father
was a Muslim. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011.
She was told if she accepted Islam she would be freed, but she told the court she
would never apostatize from her Christian faith. Her death sentence was overturned
in June, but she was then stopped at the airport and blocked from leaving the
country by Sudanese officials who questioned the validity of her travel documents.
Fr. Lombardi said Pope Francis met with Meriam’s family to show his closeness,
concern and prayers for all those who suffer for their faith, and especially for
Christians who suffer persecution or restrictions on their religious freedom.
Meriam and her family will settle in the United States.
Source: Vatican Radio
Newscast Media VATICAN, CITY—While some people derive pleasure from ridiculing
and making fun of homeless people, Pope Francis demonstrated the compassionate
aspect of humanity by having four homeless men as his guests on his birthday. The
occasion was celebrated with Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse. The homeless
men and the pope’s closest collaborators together with staff from the guesthouse, all
greeted him with a birthday song afterwards.
Those present at his morning Mass included Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary
of State and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals. After the
mass, all those present wished the Pope a happy birthday and sang greetings to him
before joining him for breakfast in the Vatican guesthouse.
Today’s reading was centered on the genealogy of Jesus and the Pope used this in
his homily to reflect on God’s enduring presence in our lives throughout history. He
said “God wished to live out his life alongside us” and “took his surname from each of
“God,” the Pope continued, “has always walked alongside his people,” beginning with
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He did not want to come to redeem us without coming to
live among us and share our lives. The Pope said this long list of God’s people included
“saints and sinners.” The latter included “high level sinners who committed serious sins
and who didn’t listen” to God’s plans for them.
Pope Francis said in addition to accompanying us in our lives our God follows us and in
this way, he displays His humility, His patience and His love for us. He concluded his
homily with “a Christmas wish” for all of us “to allow God to write our lives for us.”
Source: Vatican Radio
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on
Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. It’s the
fourth time the Russian leader has been here to the Vatican – he met twice with Pope
John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007.
In September this year, Pope Francis also wrote directly to President Putin, as the
city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Source: The Vatican
Newscast Media RIO DE JANEIRO—Pope Francis on Thursday met with young people from Argentina gathered in Rio’s Cathedral to greet him.
The unscheduled late morning event saw the Pope speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish after the welcoming words of the President of the Argentinian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop José Maria Arancedo.
After words of thanks to the Argentinian youth for their presence, both inside the Cathedral and outside where he noted some 30,000 young people were standing in the rain, the Pope revealed that following a special personal request, the organizer of the Papal trip had managed to set up this event.
To a cheering congregation, many of whom were dressed in the blue and white colours of Argentina, Pope Francis said: “I would like to tell you what my expectations are regarding this World Youth Day. I would like us to make noise, I would like those inside the Dioceses to go out into the open; I want the Church to be in the streets; I want us to defend ourselves against all that is worldliness, comfort, being closed and
turned within – Parishes, colleges and institutions must get out otherwise they risk becoming NGOs, and the Church is not a Non-Governmental Organization”.
Pope Francis also spoke with concern about this moment of history in which material wealth is worshiped and in which a philosophy which excludes the young and the old risks perpetrating what he called a kind of hidden euthanasia.
The young, he said, who do not have the experience and the dignity of work, and the aged who are not allowed to speak, are being marginalized.
In addition, Pope Francis invited young people to go out and to fight for these values: he urged the aged to speak out, to pass on history and memory, and said that young people must not be against the elderly: “they must listen to them”.
Young people and old people in this moment of history – the Pope continued – are condemned to the same destiny: exclusion. “Don’t let yourselves be excluded!”
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—The scourge of human trafficking and the continued tension in the Middle East were the focus of Pope Francis’ concerns in discussions with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Serbian native Vuk Jeremic.
Mr Jeremic later went on to meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti respectively Secretary of State and Secretary for Relations with States.
A statement issued following the ‘cordial’ meeting reads:
“A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed in particular the resolution of international conflicts through peaceful means, with specific reference to the Middle East, and the serious humanitarian emergencies caused by them. In this context the importance of reconciliation between the various communities that make up society and respect for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities was recognized. The problem of human trafficking was also dwelt upon as well as the plight of refugees and migrants.
With regard to the present global economic crisis, reference was made to the role that the UN General Assembly could assume in programs for the sustainable development agenda after 2015, which respects the environment and at the same time is capable of reducing the distance between rich and poor.
Today’s meeting confirmed the Holy See’s appreciation for the central role of the Organization in the search for the common good of humanity. Mention was made of the contribution that the Catholic Church also makes, with the means proper to and in accordance with her identity, in favor of the promotion of integral human dignity, peace and a culture of encounter, hoping that those values can always inspire the General Assembly’s debates and deliberations”.
Newscast Media LONDON—A telegram was sent to David Cameron on behalf of Pope Francis offering the Holy Father’s condolences after the death of Margaret Thatcher. The telegram said Pope Francis appreciated the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations.
Below find the full text of the telegram sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on behalf of Pope Francis:
“The Right Honourable David Cameron, MP The Prime Minister,
His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret
Thatcher. He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her
commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of
nations. Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British
people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she
touched God’s abundant blessings.”
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—When we have a heart of stone it happens that we pick up real stones and stone Jesus Christ in the person of our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest of them. Pope Francis said this, commenting on the day’s Readings during the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
It was a simple celebration to which the Pope invited employees of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State. He gave them a brief homily, focused in particular on the Gospel passage of John which recounts the episode of the Jews who wanted to stone Jesus.
Among those who appeared were Cardinale Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the College of Cardinals and of the Congregation for Bishops, Mons. Alfred Xuereb and Mons. Battista Ricca, Director of the Domus.
Also present were sisters of three communities of women religious who work in Vatican City: the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul of the Santa Marta Paediatric Dispensary; the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – Ravasco Institute of the Casa San Benedetto, the home for retired apostolic nuncios; and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple – who come from Krakow – of the Holy Father’s private storeroom.
Newscast Media ROME—Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite, was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires. He studied as and holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto.
On March 11, 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Company of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.
Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.
From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on April 22, 1973 pronounced his perpetual vows.
He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On July 31, 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served as for six years.
From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.
On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nunzio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich. of Mercedes-Lujan on June 27, of that year.
On June 3, 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998. He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.
He served as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of February 21, 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).