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Day: December 16, 2014

Vatican affirms vital role of U.S. sisters in evangelisation

(Vatican Radio) Six years after the Vatican’s Congregation for religious life ordered an investigation or ‘Apostolic Visitation’ of all female religious institutes in the United States, the Holy See on Tuesday released its final report, reaffirming the vital role that sisters play in evangelisation within the wider Church. At a press conference that was streamed…
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Vatican affirms vital role of U.S. sisters in evangelisation

(Vatican Radio) Six years after the Vatican’s Congregation for religious life ordered an investigation or ‘Apostolic Visitation’ of all female religious institutes in the United States, the Holy See on Tuesday released its final report, reaffirming the vital role that sisters play in evangelisation within the wider Church.
At a press conference that was streamed live online, American Sr Mary Clare Millea, charged with organising the visitation, shared her positive impressions of the report, alongside the heads of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Also taking part were the president and secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for religious, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Archbishop José Rodriquez Carballo. 
Philippa Hitchen reports…
Listen: 

Altogether some 50.000 sisters, belonging to 341 religious institutes were involved in the four-phase investigation, which the report notes, was initially met with “apprehension and suspicion” on the part of many religious. Some refused to cooperate fully with Sr Mary Clare and her team, but the vast majority, she said, came to see this unprecedented operation as a great opportunity for reflection, dialogue and communion among women religious in the U.S. today…
“ The Visitation has given us a priceless opportunity to renew our commitment to the consecrated life and to place our unique gifts at the service of the Church, as together we confront new and emerging threats to human dignity, religious freedom and conscience protection. .”
On-site visits were carried out at 90 different religious institutes, resulting in a report that the sisters say accurately reflects both common trends and the great diversity of female congregations today. The relatively short report covers everything from declining vocations to problems of financial management, from the particular identity of different congregations to calls by some sisters for greater recognition of women’s contribution on the part of the male hierarchy.
Above all, Cardinal Braz de Aviz said the report is an opportunity for his Congregation to express gratitude for all that women religious contribute to the evangelising work of the Church…
“ Since the early days of the Catholic Church in their country, women religious have courageously been in the forefront of her evangelising mission, selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical and social needs of countless individuals, especially the poor and marginalised .”
But what of those who still feel the investigation amounts to a criticism and an attempt to clamp down on women seen as moving too far away from the teachings of the Catholic Church. A separate investigation is currently underway, instigated by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious which represents around 80% of America’s female religious institutes and some fear that may be more critical than the current report. Sr Sharon Holland is president of the LCWR and she believes it’s vital to listen to those who are still angry about the way they feel the Vatican has treated them…
“I need to listen to those people before I try to answer them….I think we’ll have to look at the call in the document, in this year of consecrated life, to move towards greater forgiveness and reconciliation….we have to listen to each other and understand where people are coming from, and sometimes even being heard helps a person let go of negative things ”.
Moderating the Vatican press conference was Canadian Father Tom Rosica, one of the very few men who worked closely with Sr Mary Clare and her team. He says men in the Catholic Church today have a lot to learn from the professional skills and faithful spirit of their female counterparts
“I found myself with some of the most intelligent, competent, faithful women I’ve ever met….for the four of us, in a very small minority, we were astounded and enriched by the experience….my hope is that men in the Church would learn from the process put in place by this visitation…..it taught us about dialogue, about professionalism, about faithfulness to the Church, but most especially about listening ”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: Salvation is a humble heart that trusts God

(Vatican Radio) God saves “a repentant heart,” while he who does not trust in Him draws “condemnation” upon himself. This message was at the heart of Pope Francis’s homily during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:  Humility saves man in God’s eyes, while pride is a loser.…
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Pope: Salvation is a humble heart that trusts God

(Vatican Radio) God saves “a repentant heart,” while he who does not trust in Him draws “condemnation” upon himself. This message was at the heart of Pope Francis’s homily during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:  Humility saves man in God’s eyes, while pride is a loser.…
Read more

Pope: Salvation is a humble heart that trusts God

(Vatican Radio) God saves “a repentant heart,” while he who does not trust in Him draws “condemnation” upon himself. This message was at the heart of Pope Francis’s homily during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : 

Humility saves man in God’s eyes, while pride is a loser. The key lies in the heart. The heart of a humble person is open, it knows repentance, it accepts correction and trusts in God. The heart of the proud person is the exact opposite: it is arrogant, closed, knows no shame, it is impervious to God’s voice. The reading from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah and from the Gospel of the day guide Pope Francis in a parallel reflection. Both texts, he notes, speak of a “judgment” upon which salvation and condemnation depend.
HUMILITY, THE ONLY PATH
The situation described by the prophet Zephaniah is that of a rebellious city in which, however, there is a group of people who repent of their sins: this group, the Pope said, is the “people of God” possesses the “three characteristics” of “humility, poverty, and trust in the Lord.” But in the city there are also those, Francis says, who “do not accept correction, they do not trust in the Lord.” They will be condemned:
“These people cannot receive Salvation. They are closed to Salvation. ‘I will leave within you
the meek and humble; they will trust in the name of the Lord’ throughout their lives. And that is still valid today, isn’t it? When we look at the holy people of God that is humble, that has its riches in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord – the humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved and this is the way of the Church, isn’t it? This is the path I must follow, not the path in which I do not listen to His voice, do not accept correction and do not trust in the Lord. ”
SINCERELY REPENNTANT, NOT HYPOCRITES
The scene of the Gospel tells of the contrast between two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first refuses, but then repents and goes to work in the vineyard; the second says yes to the father but actually deceives him. Jesus tells this story to the chief priests and the elders of the people stating clearly that it is they who have not wanted to listen to the voice of God through John and that is why the Kingdom of Heaven will be entered, not by them but by tax collectors and prostitutes who did believe John. And the scandal provoked by this statement, Pope Francis said, is identical to that of many Christians who feel “pure” just because they go to Mass and receive communion. But God, he says, needs much more:
“If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant. These hypocrites who were scandalized by what Jesus said about the tax collectors and the prostitutes, but then secretly approached them to vent their passion or to do business – but all in secrecy – were pure! The Lord does not want them. ”
OFFER YOUR SINS
This judgment “gives us hope” – Pope Francis assured the faithful – provided, he concludes, that we have the courage to open our hearts to God without reserve, giving Him even the “list” of our sins. And in explanation of these words the Pope recalled the story of the Saint who thought he had given everything to the Lord, with extreme generosity:
“He listened to the Lord, he always followed His will, he gave to the Lord, and the Lord said to him: ‘there is still one thing you have not given me’. And the poor man who was good said: ‘But, Lord, what is it that I have not given you? I have given you my life, I work for the poor, I work for catechesis, I work here, I work there … ‘ ‘But there is something you have not  given me yet’ .- ‘What is it Lord? ‘Your sins’. When we will be able to say to the Lord: ‘Lord, these are my sins – they are not his or hers, they are mine… They are mine. Take them and I will be saved’- when we will be able to do this we will be that people, ‘that meek and humble people’, that trusts in the Lord’s name. May the Lord grant us this grace. ”
 
(from Vatican Radio)…