(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with members of ROACO , (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches) who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week.
The meeting brings Church leaders from countries across the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe together with donor organisations which raise funds for Christians in the Eastern-rite Churches.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:
The four day meeting has been focused on the difficult situation of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Holy Land, as well as reflecting on the training of priests and seminarians in all the Eastern-rite Churches.
In his message to participants, Pope Francis thanked them for their constant work of charity and solidarity over the past half century in support of Latin and Eastern-rite communities under the care of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches.
Persecution and emigration
These Churches of the Middle East, as well as in Eastern Europe, he said, have often suffered from “terrible waves of persecution and pain”. Emigration has also significantly weakened the presence of these Churches in places where they flourished for centuries.
Freedom has now returned to some of those regions, the Pope said, but others, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, are still devastated by “wars and absurd violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.” These experiences are a source of both suffering and salvation, he said, as we experience the Cross of Christ.
Temptations of social status
Speaking about the formation of priests and seminarians, Pope Francis noted the dedication and heroic witness of so many prelates. But he also warned about the temptations of seeking social status that is associated with the priesthood in some parts of the world.
The Congregation for Oriental Churches and donor agencies must continue to support projects and initiatives which build up the Church in an authentic way, the Pope said. We must remember we are living stones, built around Christ as our corner stone, he added.
Witness to the Gospel
Finally, the Pope remembered all those Christians – Catholics, Orthodox or Protestant – whose blood continues to be spilled because of their witness to the Gospel. When Eastern-rite Christians are forced to emigrate, he said, they must be welcomed in their new countries and allowed to continue their worship according to their own traditions
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) A shepherd must be passionate, must know how to discern and how to denounce evil. Those were Pope Francis’ words during Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta, where he focused on the figure of the Apostle Paul and then turned his attention to the example offered by Don Milani. Like the parish priest of Barbiana, the Pope said, one should take care of one’s neighbour.
“The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep,” said Pope Francis during his homily, drawing inspiration from the readings of the day and dwelling on the characteristics that a shepherd should have. The Pope noted in Saint Paul, the figure of the “true shepherd”, who does not abandon his sheep unlike a “mercenary”. The first quality, therefore, the Holy Father indicated, is that St Paul is “passionate”. Passionate, he added, “to the point of telling his people, ‘I feel for you all a kind of divine jealousy’.” He is “divinely jealous,” the Pope commented.
The true shepherd knows how to discern, on guard against at the seduction of evil
A passion therefore becomes almost “madness”, “stupidity” for his people. “And this – the Pope added – is that which we call apostolic zeal: he cannot be a true shepherd without this fire.” A second characteristic, he continued, the pastor must be “a man who knows how to discern”:
“He knows what seduction in life is. The lying father is a seducer. The Shepherd, is not. The shepherd loves. Instead, the snake, the father of lies, is a seducer. He is a seducer trying to turn away from fidelity, because that divine jealousy of Paul was to bring the people to a single groom, to keep the people loyal to their bridegroom. In the history of salvation, in Scripture many times we turn away from God, disloyalty towards the Lord, idolatry as if it were a maternal infidelity. ”
You must know how to report evil, not be naïve
The Shepherd’s first characteristic, then, “is to be passionate, zealous, zealous”. The second feature is, “someone who knows how to discern: to discern where the dangers are, where the graces are… where the real road is”. This, the Pope said, “means he always accompanies his sheep: in beautiful moments and even in bad moments, even in moments of seduction, with patience he brings them to the fold.” And the third feature: is “the ability to denounce”:
“An apostle cannot be naive: ‘Ah, it’s all right, let’s go ahead, eh? It’s all right … Let’s party, everyone … everything is possible …’. because there is the fidelity to the only groom, to Jesus Christ, to be defended. And he knows how to condemn it: that concreteness, to say ‘ no,’ like the parents say to the baby when he starts to clap and goes to the electric socket to put his fingers in : ‘No, no! It’s dangerous!’. But, I think so many times of that ‘tuca nen’ (do not touch anything ndr) that my parents and grandparents told me at those moments where there was a danger. ”
Take care of others as Don Milani did
“The Good Shepherd – Pope Francis said – can denounce, by name and surname” as St. Paul did.
The Holy Father returned to his visit to Bozzolo and Barbiana, this week, referring, “to those two good shepherds of Italy.” And speaking of Don Milani, he recalled his “motto” when he “taught his boys”:
“I care. But what does it mean? They explained to me that he wanted to say ‘I care’. He taught that things were to be taken seriously, against the fashion motto at that time that was ‘I do not care,’ but said in another language, which I dare not say here. And so he taught the kids to move on. Take care: take care of your life, and this no! ‘”
Paul’s apostolic zeal, was passionate, zealous. Man, commented the Holy Father knows how to discern because he knows the power of seduction and knows the devil seduces.
The Pope then concluded with a prayer “for all the shepherds of the Church, for Saint Paul who intercede before the Lord, for all of us pastors in order to serve the Lord.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has pledged to donate about half a million dollars to support Church-run education, healthcare and agricultural projects in South Sudan.
At a press conference in the Vatican on Wednesday, Cardinal Peter Turkson , head of the office for Integral Human Development, led a panel of speakers giving details of those humanitarian projects, run by Caritas and by missionaries from different religious institutes. The cardinal also outlined numerous initiatives that the Holy See has taken to stop the war, which flared across the country in 2013.
Listen to Philippa HItchen’s report:
Pope Francis may have postponed a planned visit to war-torn South Sudan this year, but he’s clearly more determined than ever to raise awareness about the need to support those suffering from conflict and starvation.
Over half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat, a million and a half people have fled their homes, thousands are suffering from a cholera epidemic and untold numbers are victims of killings, rapes and other violent crimes.
Faces behind the statistics
But beyond the shocking statistics of this largely forgotten war, it’s vital to remember the individual victims – that’s why aid workers have started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #southsudanwecare
Among those speaking at the Vatican press conference was Sr Yudith Pereira-Rico , from Solidarity with South Sudan, an organisation founded by male and female religious congregations over a decade ago:
“ We don’t talk about numbers, we talk about individuals who are suffering….any time a young man or woman in South Sudan clicks this hashtag they will know how many people care…..this moral support is very important ”
Part of the pope’s donation will go to support a college in Yambio run by Solidarity with South Sudan to train teachers, nurses, midwives, farmers and community leaders. As well as learning vital job skills, the students from many different ethnic groups learn about the values of diversity and collaboration, an important sign of hope for the country which gained independence in 2011.
Caritas and Comboni missionaries
Other beneficiaries of the initiative entitled ‘ The Pope for South Sudan ’ include two hospitals run by Comboni missionaries and an agricultural project, run by Caritas, to provide livelihoods for 2.500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Yambio and Torit. Michel Roy , secretary general of Caritas Internationalis , told journalists that while peace must be the priority for South Sudan, the international community must also do more to save lives of those dying from hunger and disease
“ The UN has launched an appeal, right now it is half funded, there’s a real need for the international community to engage more, much more. This cannot be just another forgotten conflict, like Darfur …”
Holy See mediation efforts
Asked about Vatican initiatives to try and stop the fighting, Cardinal Peter Turkson said he had been personally involved in two mediation efforts to bring together warring leaders President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Amid concerns that the conflict was spreading across the region, the nuncio in Kenya also met with Machar last December to urge the parties to come to the negotiating table.
Planned peace pilgrimage
So far, these attempts have failed to bring peace, but Cardinal Turkson stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan. That’s a key condition before a planned visit to the region by the pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, can take place. While they had hoped to travel together in October to endorse peace efforts of all Christians in the region, that trip has been postponed until at least 2018.
(from Vatican Radio)…CONTINUE READING
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Addressing the 43-member delegation representing the trustees and members of the organization that honors the great players in the history of the premier professional American football league, the Holy Father spoke of sport as a bridge-builder that can be a powerful tool in creating a culture of encounter, especially by fostering virtues of fair play, teamwork, and pursuit of excellence.
Click below to hear our report
“Our world,” said Pope Francis, “and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”
Pope Francis concluded expressing the hope that the delegates’ visit to Rome might help them grow in gratitude for gifts received and inspire them to share those gifts ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) We are called to be saints, just like the multitude of witnesses before us, so as to be heralds of hope for the world. That was Pope Francis’ message during the catechesis portion of his Wednesday General Audience, in which he reflected on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:
Pope Francis at his General Audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square said the Saints who have gone before us show us the path of Christian hope and teach us to follow in their footsteps.
Taking the Letter to the Hebrews (11:40-12:12a) as his guide, the Pope said the saints are “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.
He spoke about three important moments in the life of the Church in which the “great cloud of witnesses” is evoked: in the liturgies of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders.
He said the saints are called upon in these moments because “they have passed along our same path, have known the same toil, and live forever in the embrace of God.”
“God never abandons us,” he said. “Whenever we are in need, one of His angels will come to pick us up and console us. ‘Angels’ sometimes have a human face and heart, because the saints of God are always here, hidden in our midst.”
Pope Francis went on to assure his audience that the Christian ideal is attainable, as the lives of the saints have shown.
He said, “It is possible to be saints because the Lord helps us.” Being a saint, he said, means doing your daily duties, like “praying, working, taking care of the kids”, but “doing all with a heart open to God”.
In conclusion, the Holy Father said living a saintly life is “the great gift that each of us can offer to the world.”
“Our history needs ‘mystics’, that is, people who reject every dominion and aspire to charity and solidarity: Men and women who live by accepting even a portion of suffering, because they take upon themselves the difficulties of their neighbor. Without these men and women, the world would be without hope.”
(from Vatican Radio)…