(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday joined members of the Italian lay Catholic group “ Azione Cattolica Italiana ” as they celebrated 150 years since their foundation. They were gathered in St. Peter’s Square with balloons and banners for a special audience with the Pope and for the recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer.
Catholic Action was the name of many groups, especially active during the 19th century that aimed to encourage a Catholic influence on society in countries that fell under anti-clerical regimes.
Italy’s “Azione Cattolica” is probably the most active Catholic Action group still around today. It was founded in 1867 by Mario Fani and Giovanni Acquaderni with the name “Italian Catholic Youth Society”.
Speaking to the some 70,000 members of the group present in St. Peter’s Square for the occasion, the Pope said it is vital to walk looking ahead (and not behind) and to be missionary disciples that reach out to the peripheries.
The Pope said the Church is grateful for the contribution made to society by “Azione Cattolica” with its passion for the world and for the Church.
He encouraged all members to be open to the world and not to look back complacently at a glorious history, but to go out into the world bearing the Lord’s testimony of joy and of hope.
The Pope recalled some well-known members of the group like Giuseppe Toniolo, Armida Barelli, Piergiorgio Frassati, Antonietta Meo, Teresio Olivelli, Vittorio Bachelet, and urged those present to live up to their examples.
He told them to always be at the service of the dioceses and the parishes to which they belong and to channel all initiatives towards evangelization, “not self-conservation”.
“Just as your predecessors did 150 years ago, feel the responsibility within you to sow the good seed of the Gospel in your lives and in the world, through the service of charity and political commitment” he said.
And with a heartfelt call, especially to the youth of “Azione Cattolica”, the Pope said: “go, reach all the peripheries! Be Church with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday evening, during his return from Egypt, held his traditional inflight “press conference” with journalists onboard the Papal plane touching on a wide range of issues.
Amongst the topics elaborated upon, he spoke of his concern for the North Korea crisis for which he urged diplomatic mediation, of the phenomenon of populism in Europe and across the world and of the dramatic situation of forced migrants and refugees in many refugee camps.
Please find below CNA and EWTN’s full transcript of the Pope’s inflight press conference:
Greg Burke (Vatican press director): Here among the journalists are those who are making a trip for the first time and those who have made almost 100.. No, more than 100, I think… And you, I don’t know if you know how many international trips you’ve made…
Pope Francis : 18!
Greg Burke : Ah, 18, alright great. I didn’t know. Nineteen is around the corner, so also you have a good number of Papal trips now. Thanks for this moment which is always a strong moment for us and let’s start with the Italian group, Paolo Rodari. I don’t know if you want to say something first.
Pope Francis: Yes, good evening and thanks for your work because these were 27 hours, I think, of much work. Thanks so much for what you did, thank you. And I’m at your disposal.
Greg Burke : Thank you, Holy Father.
Paolo Rodari (Repubblica): Hello. Holy Father, thank you. I wanted to ask you about your meeting yesterday with al Sisi. What did you speak about? Topics of human rights were mentioned and, in particular, that you were able to speak about the case of Giulio Regeni, and do you think the truth will be reached in that regard?
Pope Francis : On this I will give a general response, to then reach the particular. Generally when I am with a head of state in private dialogue, that remains private, unless, by agreement, we say ‘let’s say on this point, we’ll make it public.’ I had four private dialogues here with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, with al Sisi, with Patriarch Tawadros and with Patriarch Ibrahim and I believe that if it is private, for respect one must maintain privacy… it is confidential… but later there is the question on Regeni. I am concerned, from the Holy See I have moved on that topic because the parents also asked me to. The Holy See has moved. I will not say how or where, but we have moved.
Greg Burke : Dario Menor Torres, from El Correo Espanol.
Dario Meno r (El Correo Espanol): Thank you, Holiness! You said yesterday that peace, prosperity and development deserve every sacrifice and later you underscored the importance of the inalienable rights of man. Does this mean a support for the Egyptian government, a recognition of its role in the Middle East, and how it tries to defend Christians despite insufficient democratic guarantees from this government?
Pope Francis : Could you repeat… what does what mean? I didn’t hear…
Dario Menor : If these words that you said on the importance of peace, of prosperity and development, saying that they deserve every sacrifice, if we should interpret them as a support of the Egyptian government and how it tries to defend Christians despite insufficient democratic guarantees.
Pope Francis : No, No… one must interpret (it) literally as values in themselves… I said that defending peace, defending the harmony of peoples, defending the equality of citizens, whichever the religion they profess may be, are values. I spoke of values! If a person who governs defends one value or defends another, it is another issue. I have made 18 [international] visits. In many of those nations, I’ve heard, ‘But the Pope, going there, gives support to that government,’ because a government always has its weaknesses or it has its political adversaries, and some say one thing or another… I don’t get mixed up (in that)… I speak about values, and every person sees, is a judge if this government, this state, that from here, that from there, carries those values forward…
Dario Menor : Were you left with the urge to visit the Pyramids?
Pope Francis: But, do you know that today at 6:00 in the morning, two of my assistants went to visit the pyramids?
Dario Menor: Would you have liked to go with them?
Pope Francis : Truly, yes.
Dario Menor: Thanks a million.
Virginie Riva (Europe 1): Holy Father, a question possibly starting from the trip and extending it to France, if you accept. You spoke at al-Azhar, at the university, about demagogic populism. French Catholics in this moment are tempted by the populist or extreme vote, they are divided and disoriented. What elements of discernment could you give these Catholic electors?
Pope Francis : Great… there is a dimension of “populisms” – in quotes, because you know that this word for me, I’ve had to relearn it in Europe, because in Latin America it has another meaning – there is an issue in Europe and there is an issue of the European Union behind it… that which I said about Europe I will not repeat it here… I’ve spoken about it four times, I believe, twice in Strasbourg, once at the Charlemagne Prize and at the beginning of the commemoration of the 60th. There is everything I’ve said about Europe. Every nation is free to make choices that it believes convenient before this. I cannot judge if this choice is made for this reason, or for another, because I don’t know the internal politics. It is true that Europe is in danger of dissolving. This is true! I said it softly in Strasbourg. I said it more strongly at the Charlemagne [Prize ceremony] and lately without nuance. We must meditate on only that – the Europe that goes from the Atlantic to the Urals – there is an issue that scares Europe and perhaps feeds … the issue is emigration. This is true. But let’s not forget that Europe was made by migrants, centuries and centuries of migrants. We are them! But it is an issue that must be studied well, also respecting opinions, but the honest opinions of a political discussion – with the capital letter, big, with the big ‘Politics’ and not with the little ‘politics’ of the nation that in the end winds up falling. About France, I’ll tell the truth. I don’t understand the internal French politics. I don’t understand it. I’ve sought to have good relations, also with the current president, with which there was a conflict once, but after I was able to speak clearly about things, respecting his opinion. On the two political candidates, I don’t know the history. I don’t know where they come from, nor – yes, I know that one represents the strong right, but the other I truly don’t know where they come from – for this (reason) I cannot give a clear opinion on France. But, speaking with Catholics, here in one of the gatherings, while I was greeting people, one said to me, ‘But why don’t you think big about politics ?’ What does that mean? Well, he said it to me as if asking for help… eh, to make a party for Catholics. This is a good man but he’s living in the last century. For this, the populisms have relationships with migrants, but this is not from the trip. If I still have time later I can return to this. If I have time, I will return.
Vera Shcherbakova (ITAR-TASS): Holy Father, thank you first of all for the blessings… you blessed me. I knelt down some minutes ago. I am Orthodox and I don’t see any contradiction with my baptism, anyway, I see it as a great pleasure. I wanted to ask: what are the prospects for the relations between the Orthodox, obviously Russian, but also yesterday in the common declaration with the Coptic Patriarch, the common date of Easter (came up) and that they speak of a recognition of baptism… where are we on this point? How do you evaluate the relations between the Vatican and Russia as a State, also in light of the defense of the values of Christians in the Middle East and especially in Syria? Thanks.
Greg Burke : This is Vera Shcherbakova, of the TASS Agency.
Pope Francis : Christos Anesti! I, with the Orthodox, have always had a great friendship, since Buenos Aires, no? For example, every January 6th I would go to vespers, to the complete readings, at your Cathedral of Patriarch Plato, who is in an archbishop in the area of Ukraine, no? And he… two hours and forty (minutes) of prayer in a language that I didn’t understand, but you could pray well, and then the dinner with the community. Three hundred people, a Christmas Eve dinner, not a Christmas dinner. They still couldn’t eat dairy or meat, but it was a beautiful dinner and then bingo, the lottery… friendship… also with the other Orthodox, also sometimes they needed legal help. They would come to the Catholic Curia because they are small communities and they would go to the lawyers. They’d come in and out. But, I’ve always had a filial, fraternal relationship. We are sister Churches! With Tawadros, there is a special friendship. For me, he’s a great man of God! And Tawadros is a patriarch, a pope that carries the Church forward, the name of Jesus before (him). He has a great apostolic zeal… He is one of the most – permit me the word, but in quotes – ‘fanatics’ of finding a fixed date for Easter. I am too. We are seeking the way. But he says, ‘Let’s fight!’ He is a man of God. He is a man who, when he was bishop, far from Egypt, went out to feed the disabled, a man who was sent to a diocese with five churches and he left behind 25, I don’t know how many Christian families with the apostolic zeal. The you know how they make the election among them. They look for three, then they put the names in a bag, they call a child, they close their eyes and the child chooses the name. The Lord is there. He is clearly a great patriarch. The unity of baptism is moving ahead. The guilt of baptism is an historical thing (Editor’s note: Pope Francis seems to be referring to the historical ‘breach’ between the recognition of baptism between the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic traditions. Neither currently recognizes baptism carried out in the other Church), because in the first Councils it was the same, then as the Coptic Christians baptized children in the shrines, when they wanted to get married, they came to us, they were married with a Catholic, they asked for the faith… but they didn’t have it and they asked for baptism under a condition. It started with us, not with them… but now the door has been opened and we are on a good path of overcoming this issue, the door…. In the common declaration, the penultimate paragraph speaks of this. The Russian Orthodox recognize our baptism and we recognize their baptism. I was a very close friend as the bishop of Buenos Aires with the Russians, also with the Georgians, for example… but the patriarch of the Georgians is a man of God, Ilia II. He is a mystic! We Catholics must learn also from this mystical tradition of the Orthodox Churches. During this trip, we had this ecumenical encounter. Patriarch Bartholomew was there too. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop was there and then there were other Christians – Anglicans, also the secretary of the Union of Churches of Geneva (Editor’s note: Pope Francis is referring to the Conference of European Churches) but all that makes ecumenism is on the path. Ecumenism is made on the path, with the works of charity, with the works of helping, doing things together when they can be done together. Static ecumenism doesn’t exist! It is true that theologians must study and come to an agreement, but it will not be possible for this to finish well if we’re not walking. What can we do together? Pray together, work together, do works of charity together… but, together, eh! And move ahead. The relations with Patriarch Kirill are good. They are good. Also, Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion has come many times to speak with me and we have a good relationship.
Greg Burke : She’s asking about with the State…
Pope Francis : Ah, with the State! I know that the State speaks of this, of the defense of Christians in the Middle East. This I know and believe that it is a good thing to fight against persecution… today there are more martyrs than in the first centuries, most of all in the Middle East.
Greg Burke : Phil Pulella…this question will address the trip, but then let’s see where it ends…
Phil Pulella (Reuters): If I can I would like to speak about another topic, but I’ll start with the trip. You spoke yesterday in your first speech about the danger of unilateral action, and that everyone must be builders of peace. Now you have spoken very clearly about the “third world war in pieces,” but it seems that today this fear and anxiety is concentrated on what is happening in North Korea…
Pope Francis : Yes, it’s the focal point!
Pulella : Exactly, it’s the point of concentration. President Trump sent a team of military ships to the coast of North Korea, the leader of North Korea threatened to bomb South Korea, Japan and even the United States if they succeed in building long-range missiles. People are afraid and speak of the possibility of a nuclear war as if it were nothing. You, if you see President Trump, but also other people, what will you say to these leaders who are responsible for the future of humanity? Because we are in a very critical moment…
Pope Francis : I would call them, I call them and I will call them like I called on leaders in different positions to work on resolving problems along the path of diplomacy, and there are facilitators, many of them, in the world. There are mediators who offer…there are countries like Norway, for example, no one can accuse Norway of being a dictatorial country, and it’s always ready to help, to name an example, but there are many. The path is the path of negotiation, the path of diplomatic solutions. This world war in pieces of which I’ve been talking about for two years more or less, it’s in pieces, but the pieces have gotten bigger, they are concentrated, they are focused on points that are already hot. Things are already hot, as the issue of missiles in North Korea has been there for more than a year, now it seems that the thing has gotten too hot. I always say to resolve problems on the path of diplomacy, negotiation, because the future of humanity…today a widespread war destroys I don’t say half of humanity, but a good part of humanity, and it’s the culture, everything. It’s terrible. I think that today humanity is not able to support it. Let’s look to these countries that are suffering an internal war, inside, where there are the fires of war, in the Middle East for example, but also in Africa, in Yemen. Let’s stop! Let’s look for a diplomatic solution! And there I believe that the United Nations has the duty to resume their leadership, because it’s been watered down a bit.
Pulella : Do you want to meet President Trump when he comes to Europe? Has there been a request for a meeting?
Pope Francis : I still have not been informed by the Secretariat of State if there has been a request, but I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.
Greg Burke : I think the questions on the trip have finished. We can take one more still, then we have to go to dinner at six-thirty. There is Antonio Pelayo from Antena 3, who you know…
Antonio Pelayo (Antena 3): Thank you. Holy Father, the situation in Venezuela has deteriorated recently in a very serious way, and there have been many deaths. I want to ask you if the Holy See intends to carry out this action, this peacemaking intervention, and what forms could this action take?
Pope Francis : There was an intervention from the Holy See at the strong request of the four presidents that were working as facilitators. And the thing didn’t turn out. And it remained there. It didn’t turn out because the proposals weren’t accepted or they were diluted. It was a ‘yes-yes,’ but ‘no-no.’ We all know the difficult situation of Venezuela. It is a nation that I really love. And I know that now they are insisting, I don’t know well from where, I believe that it’s from the four presidents, on relaunching this facilitation and they are looking for the place. I think that this has to be with conditions already, very clear conditions. Part of the opposition doesn’t want this. Because it’s curious, the very opposition is divided and on the other hand it appears that the conflicts are always worse. But, there is something in movement. I was informed of that, but it is very up in the air still. But all that can be done for Venezuela has to be done, with the necessary guarantees, if not we’re playing ‘tin tin pirulero’ (Editor’s note: this is a Spanish term for trying one thing, then another and another without knowing what one is doing). It’s not working…
Greg Burke : Thank you Holy Father. And now we go to…
Jörg Heinz Norbert Bremer (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung): Some days ago you spoke about the theme of refugees in Greece, in Lesbos, and you used this word “concentration camp” because there were too many people. For us Germans this was obviously a very, very serious word, and very close to “extermination camp.” There are people who say that this was a linguistic lapse. What did you intend to say?
Pope Francis : First, you must read well everything that I said. I said that the most generous in Europe were Italy and Greece. It’s true, they are closer to Libya, to Syria. From Germany, I have always admired the ability of integration. When I studied there, there were many integrated Turks in Frankfurt. They integrated and had a normal life. There was no linguistic lapse: there are concentration camps, sorry: refugee camps that are true camps of concentration. Perhaps there are some in Italy, or in another area…in Germany, I’m not sure, but you think of what people do who are closed in a camp and can’t leave. Think about what happened in Northern Europe when they wanted to cross the sea and go to England. They are closed inside. But it made me laugh a bit, and this is a bit of Italian culture, but it made me laugh that in a refugee camp in Sicily, a delegate of Catholic Action told me, one of the delegates from the dioceses in Argentina – there is one or two in the area there, I don’t know which diocese – the heads of that city where the camp was spoke to the people in the refugee camp, and they said: you, here inside, it will hurt you and your mental health too…you have to go out, but please don’t do anything bad. We can’t open the door, but we can make a little hole behind. Go out, have a nice walk, and this is how relationships were made with the people who lived in that city, good relationships, and these (refugees) aren’t delinquents, they don’t commit crimes. The sole fact of being closed without anything (to do), this is a lager! (Editor’s note: he is referring to the German name for concentration camp. For example, Auschwitz was a “lager”). But it doesn’t have anything to do with Germany, no.
Greg Burke: Thank you Holy Father.
Pope Francis: Thanks to you for this work you do which helps a lot of people. You don’t know the good that you can do with your news pieces, with your articles, with your thoughts. We must help people and also help communication, because communication…may the press lead us to good things, may it not lead us to disorientations that don’t help us. Thank you very much! Have a good dinner, and pray for me!
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for an end to violence in Venezuela and for respect of human rights in the country where nearly 30 people have been killed in unrest this month.
The Pope’s appeal came on Sunday before the recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :
“I make a heartfelt appeal to the government and all components of Venezuelan society to avoid any more forms of violence, to respect human rights and to seek a negotiated solution” he said.
Decrying the “grave humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population”, the Pope said we are continuing to receive dramatic news of people being killed, injured, and detained.
He said that he is “united in sorrow with the families of the victims” and said he is praying for “peace, reconciliation and democracy for that beloved nation.
Venezuela’s opposition is demanding elections, autonomy for the legislature where they have a majority, a humanitarian aid channel from abroad to alleviate an economic crisis, and freedom for more than 100 activists jailed by President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Vatican-led talks between the government and the opposition have broken down. On Saturday evening during his return journey from Cairo, the Pope answered a question regarding the crisis in Venezuela and said that “very clear conditions” were necessary for the talks to resume.
Pope Francis also turned his thoughts and prayers for peace to all nations that are undergoing “grave difficulties” such as the Republic of Macedonia.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday told Egypt’s priests, religious and seminarians to be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue, despite the many difficulties they face.
The pope’s words came during his final encounter, a prayer service at the seminary in Cairo at the end of his two day visit to the North African nation.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:
Pope Francis began by thanking and encouraging the leaders of this tiny Catholic community for their daily witness “amid many challenges and often few consolations”.
The Catholic Coptic Church, the largest of seven different rites, counts less than 200.000 members, or less than half a percent of the population. The Pope said despite the many negative and despairing voices, priests and religious there are called to be a positive force within society.
Pope Francis then urged the Catholic leaders to resist the many temptations they encounter, beginning with the desire to be led, rather than to lead the Church. A pastor, he said, is creative and always “share the caress of consolation, even when he is brokenhearted”.
The Pope also warned against the temptation of complain, to gossip, to compare oneself to others and to harden one’s heart, presuming to be served, rather than to serve others.
Coptic Catholic identity
Finally he urged them to avoid the temptations of individualism and losing their sense of direction. Your identity, he told them, “is to be Copts – rooted in your noble and ancient origins – and to be Catholics – part of the one and universal Church”.
Treasure of monastic life
Pope Francis concluded by recalling the great treasure of monastic life which has enriched the Church in Egypt since the first centuries. He urged today’s priests and religious to follow the examples of St Paul the Hermit, St Anthony, the Desert Fathers, and all monks and nuns who by their lives have been “salt and light” for the whole of society, especially for the poorest and those most in need.
Please see below the full address of Pope Francis to Priests, Religious and Seminarians at Saint Leo the Great Patriarchal Seminary, Maadi
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As-salamu alaykum! Peace be with you!
“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in him! Christ is forever victorious over death, let us rejoice in him!”
I am happy to be with you in this house of formation for priests, which represents the heart of the Catholic Church in Egypt. I am pleased to greet you, the priests and consecrated men and women of the small Catholic flock in Egypt, as the “leaven” which God is preparing for this blessed land, so that, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, his Kingdom may increase in this place (cf. Mt 13:13).
I wish first of all to thank you for your witness and for the good that you do every day amid many challenges and often few consolations. I want to encourage you! Do not be afraid of the burdens of your daily service and the difficult circumstances some of you must endure. We venerate the Holy Cross, the instrument and sign of our salvation. When we flee the Cross, we flee the resurrection!
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32).
This, then, demands believing, witnessing to the truth, sowing and cultivating without waiting for the harvest. In fact, we reap the fruits of so many others, whether consecrated or not, who have generously worked in the Lord’s vineyard. Your history is filled with such people!
Although there are many reasons to be discouraged, amid many prophets of destruction and condemnation, and so many negative and despairing voices, may you be a positive force, salt and light for this society. Like the engine of a train, may you be the driving force leading all towards their destination. May you be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue and harmony.
This will be possible if consecrated men and women do not give in to the temptations they daily encounter along their way. I would like to highlight some of the greatest of these temptations.
1. The temptation to let ourselves be led, rather than to lead. The Good Shepherd has the responsibility of guiding the sheep (cf. Jn 10:3-4), of bringing them to fresh pastures and springs of flowing water (cf. Ps 23). He cannot let himself be dragged down by disappointment and pessimism: “What can I do?” He is always full of initiative and creativity, like a spring that flows even in the midst of drought. He always shares the caress of consolation even when he is broken-hearted. He is a father when his children show him gratitude, but especially when they prove ungrateful (cf. Lk 15:11-32). Our faithfulness to the Lord must never depend on human gratitude: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:4, 6, 18).
2. The temptation to complain constantly. It is easy to always complain about others, about the shortcomings of superiors, about the state of the Church and society, about the lack of possibilities… But consecrated persons, though the Spirit’s anointing, are those who turn every obstacle into an opportunity, and not every difficulty into an excuse! The person who is always complaining is really someone who doesn’t want to work. It was for this reason that the Lord said to the pastors: “Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Heb 12:12; cf. Is 35:3).
3. The temptation to gossip and envy. It is a great danger when consecrated persons, instead of helping the little ones to grow and to rejoice in the successes of their brothers and sisters, allow themselves to be dominated by envy and to hurt others through gossip. When, instead of striving to grow, they start to destroy those who are growing; instead of following their good example, they judge them and belittle their value. Envy is a cancer that destroys the body in no time: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mk 3:24-25). In fact, “through the devil’s envy death entered the world” (Wis 2:24). Gossip is its means and its weapon.
4. The temptation to compare ourselves to others. Enrichment is found in the diversity and uniqueness of each one of us. Comparing ourselves with those better off often leads to grudges; comparing ourselves with those worse off often leads to pride and laziness. Those who are always comparing themselves with others end up paralyzed. May we learn from Saints Peter and Paul to experience the diversity of qualities, charisms and opinions through willingness to listen and docility to the Holy Spirit.
5. The temptation to become like Pharaoh, that is to harden our hearts and close them off to the Lord and our brothers and sisters. Here the temptation is to think that we are better than others, and to lord it over them out of pride; to presume to be served rather than to serve. It is a temptation that, from the very beginning, was present among the disciples, who – as the Gospel tells us – “on the way argued with one another who was the greatest” (Mk 9:34). The antidote to this poison is: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).
6. The temptation to individualism. As a well-known Egyptian saying goes: “Me, and after me, the flood!” This is the temptation of selfish people: along the way, they lose sight of the goal and, rather than think of others, they are unashamed to think only of themselves, or even worse, to justify themselves. The Church is the community of the faithful, the Body of Christ, where the salvation of one member is linked to the holiness of all (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-27; Lumen Gentium, 7.) An individualist is a cause of scandal and of conflict.
7. The temptation to keep walking without direction or destination. Consecrated men and women can lose their identity and begin to be “neither fish nor fowl”. They can live with a heart between God and worldliness. They can forget their first love (cf. Rev 2:4). Indeed, when they lose clear and solid identity, consecrated men and women end up walking aimlessly; instead of leading others, they scatter them. Your identity as sons and daughters of the Church is to be Copts – rooted in your noble and ancient origins – and to be Catholics – part of the one and universal Church: like a tree that, the more deeply rooted it is in the earth, the higher it reaches to the heavens!
Dear consecrated friends, resisting these temptations is not easy, but it is possible if we are grafted on to Jesus: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (Jn 15:4). The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we are alive and fruitful! Only in this way can we preserve the wonder and the passion of our first encounter with God, and experience renewed excitement and gratitude in our life with God and in our mission. The quality of our consecration depends on the quality of our spiritual life.
Egypt has enriched the Church through the inestimable value of monastic life. I urge you, therefore, to draw upon to the example of Saint Paul the Hermit, Saint Anthony, the holy Desert Fathers, and the countless monks and nuns who by their lives and example opened the gates of heaven to so many of our brothers and sisters. You too can be salt and light, and thus an occasion of salvation for yourselves and for all others, believers and non-believers alike, and especially for those who are poor, those in need, the abandoned and discarded.
May the Holy Family protect and bless all of you, your country and its entire people. With all my heart, I invoke God’s blessings on you, and through you I greet the faithful whom the Lord has entrusted to your care. May he grant you the fruits of his Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).
You are always in my heart and in my prayers. Take heart and keep moving forward with the help of the Holy Spirit! “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice in him!” And please, don’t forget to pray for me!
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was the principal celebrant and homilist at Mass for Egyptian Catholics in the “Air Defense Stadium” in Cairo on Saturday.
In his homily, focused on the Gospel reading for the 3 rd Sunday of Easter, which tells of Our Lord’s going to meet the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Holy Father said, “The encounter with the Risen Jesus transformed the lives of those two disciples because meeting the Risen One transforms every life, and makes fruitful what is barren.”
He went on to say, “Faith in the resurrection is not a product of the Church, but the Church herself is born of faith in the resurrection.”
Pope Francis then spoke of the need to proclaim our faith in the resurrection precisely by living in a way that conveys our conviction, saying, “Dear brothers and sisters, God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity,” and, “any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him,” and then encouraged the gathered faithful to be like the disciples of Emmaus.
“Filled with joy, courage and faith,” he said, “return to your own Jerusalem, that is, to your daily lives, your families, your work and your beloved country. Do not be afraid to open your hearts to the light of the Risen Lord, and let him transform your uncertainty into a positive force for yourselves and for others. Do not be afraid to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, because the strength and treasure of the believer lies in a life of love!”
The Holy Father invoked the protection of Our Lord, Jesus, his Blessed Mother, and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, over the whole land and people.
“May Our Lady and the Holy Family, who dwelt in this venerable land of yours, enlighten our hearts and bless you and this beloved country of Egypt, which at the dawn of Christianity welcomed the preaching of Saint Mark, and throughout its history has brought forth so many martyrs and a great multitude of holy men and women.”
(from Vatican Radio)…