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Day: January 12, 2015

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka: Asia is receptive to Pope Francis

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was scheduled to leave on Monday evening for the 7th Apostolic Trip of his Pontificate.  The first stop of his two-nation journey is Sri Lanka, after which he will go to the Philippines.  This follows his 2014 trip to Korea for the 6th Asian Youth Day.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Tot, told Vatican Radio that despite its small Catholic population, the continent is receptive to the message of Pope Francis.
Listen to the full interview by Fr. Louis Xystus Jerome, SJ, with Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Tot:

“I think that many people from Asia – China and Vietnam, and Sri Lanka… Japan, Korea – want to follow his teaching, and to build a good society in every country,” he said.
Archbishop Nguyên Van Tot highlighted Wednesday’s scheduled visit to the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, located in the northern of the country, which has a large Tamil population.
The Nuncio said the shrine was a “principal centre” for the whole country: Catholics belonging to the Sinhalese majority visit the shrine, as well as Catholics from the Tamil minority.
“It was not apparitions [which made the shrine famous], but there was a great devotion from the people, and they received many graces,” said Archbishop Nguyên Van Tot.
He added that other religions also appreciate the shrine, and he expects many non-Christians to arrive at Wednesday’s prayer service to “pray with the Holy Father.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

The Pope baptises thirty-three infants in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican City, 11 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Sistine Chapel the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic celebration during which he baptised thirty-three children of Vatican employees. In his homily, citing the first reading, the Pope remarked that the Lord is concerned for his children, like a parent, and therefore ensures they receive substantial nourishment. “God, like a good father or a good mother, wishes to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishment that God gives us? It is His Word”. The Word “enables us to grow and to be fruitful in life, like the rain and the snow are good for the earth and make it fecund. Therefore you, parents and godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children to grow well if you give them the Word of God, te Gospel of Jesus. And also offer this to them by example! Every day, get used to reading a passage from the Gospel, a short one, and always carry a copy of the Gospel in your pocket, in your bag, so you can read it. And this will be an example for your children – seeing their father, mother, godparents, grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles all reading the Word of God”. “You, mothers, give you children milk – and even now, if they cry with hunger, feel free to feed them. Let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of milk and pray for those mothers – there are many, unfortunately – who are not able to give their children food to eat. Let us pray and try to help these mothers. So, what the milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God enables faith to grow. As we heard in the words of the apostle John: ‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God”. Your children are baptised in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents and godparents. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones will receive Baptism. But tomorrow, but the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, who gives us the love of the Father”. He continued, “Baptism brings us within the body of the Church, as part of God’s holy people. And in this body, in this journeying people, faith is transmitted from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our mother, the faith of St. Joseph, of St. Peter, of St. Andrew, of St. John, of the apostles and the martyrs, that has arrived with us through Baptism: a chain that transmits faith”. “The candle of faith is passed from one hand to another”, explained the Pope, alluding to the Paschal candle that is lit during Baptismal rites and which represents Christ, resurrected and living in our midst. You, families, take from Him this light of faith to transmit to your children. You take this light from the Church, the body of Christ, the people of God that journeys through every time and every place. Teach your children that it is not possible to be Christian outside the Church, and it is not possible to follow Christ outside the Church, as the Church is our mother, and lets us grow in the love of Jesus Christ”. Francis then turned to the final aspect to emerge from today’s biblical readings: that in Baptism we are consecrated in the Holy Spirit. “The word ‘Christian’ means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed in all his earthly existence. He is the ‘Christ’, the anointed, the consecrated, and the baptised are Christians, that is, consecrated, anointed. And therefore, dear parents and godparents, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow ‘immersed’ in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the warmth of God’s love, in the light of His Word”….

Angelus: deafness to the voice of the Holy Spirit leads to muteness in evangelisation

Vatican City, 11 January 2014 (VIS) – The feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes the season of the Nativity and the Pope, during the Angelus at midday today, commenting on the passage in the Gospel of St. Mark – when the heavens open at the moment at which John the Baptist baptises Jesus in the Jordan – affirmed that this event marks the end of “the time of the closed heavens, which indicated the separation of God and man as a consequence of sin”. Sin “alienates us from God and ruptures the bond between earth and heaven, causing misery and failure in our lives. The open heavens indicate that God has given His grace so that the earth may bear His fruit. Thus the world transforms into God’s dwelling amid humanity, and each one of us has the opportunity to meet the Son of God, experiencing all of His love and infinite mercy. We find Him truly present in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We are able to recognise Him in the face of our brothers, especially the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and refugees; they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God”. With the Baptism of Jesus, not only did the heavens open, but also “God speaks, making his voice resound anew: ‘You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased’. … And then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this enables Christ, the consecrated of the Lord, to inaugurate His mission, which is our salvation”. The Holy Father remarked that the Holy Spirit is forgotten in our prayers: “We need to ask for His help, His strength, His inspiration. The Holy Spirit, that fully inspired the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit that today guides Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they wish to be Christians. Placing under the action of the Holy Spirit our life as Christians and the mission that we have all received by virtue of our Baptism means rediscovering the apostolic courage necessary to overcome easy worldly comforts. … A Christian or a community that is deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit, Who urges us to take the Gospel to the outermost limits of the world and of society, also becomes a mute Christian or community, unable to speak or to evangelise”. “Remember to pray often that the Holy Spirit might help us and give us strength and inspiration, leading us forward”, concluded Pope Francis who, following the Angelus prayer, asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, especially those from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to pray for him during his apostolic trip to these two countries, to commence tomorrow….

Meeting of the presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences

Vatican City, 10 January 2014 (VIS) – The presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences and the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will meet from 13 to 15 January in Esztergom, Hungary. By the Instruction of 23 February 1967, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on behalf of Blessed Pope Paul VI, had asked the Episcopal Conferences to institute an internal Doctrinal Commission, as a advisory organ for the same Episcopal Conferences and for the individual bishops in their concern for matters of doctrine of the faith. To strengthen collaboration between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Doctrinal Commissions, in 1982 it was decided to periodically gather together the presidents of the aforementioned Commissions at a continental level. One of the original characteristics of these meetings was the fact that the superiors of the Congregation travel to the various continents, thus underlining the importance of local and regional issues and their responsibility in facing doctrinal questions. The first of these meetings, during the prefecture of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, took place in Latin America, in Bogota, (1984); it was followed by meetings in Kinshasa, Africa (1987); Vienna, Europa (1989); Hong Kong, Asia (1993); Guadalajara, Latin America (1996); and San Francisco, North America (1999). During the prefecture of Cardinal William Levada another encounter took place in Dar es Salaam (2009). Now, Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and president of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE), has accepted the request made by Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a new meeting with the presidents of the European Doctrinal Commissions in Esztergom. Such an encounter demonstrates the will on the part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to support the local episcopates – as Pope Francis emphasises – in their commitment to the promotion and protection of the doctrine of the faith, taking into consideration the specific challenges to be faced in Europe today….

Pope: “Int’l community must take concrete steps for peace

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on the international community to take concrete steps to bring about peace and to protect all those who are victims of war and persecution.
In a wide-ranging discourse to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the Pope focused on a series of urgent issues which – he said – derive from a culture of rejection “which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to a breakdown of society and spawning violence and death”.
Speaking in Italian to the representatives of the 180 States which have diplomatic relations with the Holy See,  the Pope said we see painful evidence of the consequences of this culture of rejection “in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago”.
And moving across the globe, again and again the Pope mentioned the “tragic mentality of rejection” and “culture of enslavement” which are manifested in a “never ending spread of conflicts”. In this regard he spoke of Ukraine, of the Middle East –  in particular of the Holy Land – and of the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq, where – he said – “this phenomenon is a consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God”. 
In the annual speech that has come to be known as his “State of the World” address, Francis expressed  his hope that religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion that attempt to justify such acts of violence.
Religious fundamentalism – the Pope explained – “even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext”.
And violence and fundamentalism in Nigeria were next on Pope Francis’ list with a focus on the tragic phenomenon of kidnappings and human trafficking.
He then expressed concern for Libya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo where “acts of brutality reap victims from among the poor and the most vulnerable”.
“Every conflict and war” – he said ““is emblematic of the throwaway culture since people’s lives are deliberately crushed by those in power”.
Pope Francis’ long discourse did not neglect to mention the effects of this culture of rejection on the victims of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, or on the horrendous crime of rape “which offends the dignity of women” across the world, or on the lives of numerous refugees and displaced persons that risk being thrown away, including those of unaccompanied children.
And in a series of calls to legislators and rulers to take responsibility and to make every effort to resolve these grave humanitarian problems protecting the rights of citizens and promoting a change of attitude, the Pope did not neglect to mention the many other “hidden exiles” living – he said – in our homes and in our families: the elderly, the handicapped and young people who are “thrown away when they are denied concrete prospects of employment to build their future”. 
Holding up the recent agreement by the United States and Cuba to re-establish ties after more than half a century, Pope Francis concluded his discourse recalling the words of Pope Paul VI during his visit to the United Nations fifty years ago in which he pointed out that from the ashes of the immense tragedy of the Second World War, “there arose a new will for dialogue and encounter which inspired the UN” and sanctioned an agreement and an “oath to change the future of the world: never again war, never again war!” 
“This is likewise my own hope filled prayer for this new year” Pope Francis said – which will also see “the continuation of two significant processes: the drawing up of the Post-2015 Development Agenda” and “the drafting of a new Climate Change Agreement”.
“The indispensable presupposition of all these” – the Pope said – “is peace, which, even more than an end to all wars, is the fruit of heartfelt conversion”.
Click here for the Pope’s discourse to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.
(from Vatican Radio)…