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Day: January 15, 2015

Pope calls on Filipino Church to combat inequality and injustice

(Vatican Radio) Celebrating Mass in Manila’s Cathedral on Friday, Pope Francis urged  Catholics in the Philippines to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, proclaiming the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. Speaking to bishops, priests, religious and seminarians gathered in the Cathedral, the Pope said the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ.
As Filipinos prepare to mark the fifth century of the arrival of the Church in the Asian nation, the Pope said Catholics must build on that legacy of the past by building a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the Mass in Manila’s Cathedral
Mass with Bishops, Priests and Religious in  Manila’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
16 January 2015
            “Do you love me?…  Tend my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17).  Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians.  These words remind us of something essential.  All pastoral ministry is born of love.  All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love.  Like Saint Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church. 
            I greet all of you with great affection.  And I ask you to bring my affection to all your elderly and infirm brothers and sisters, and to all those who cannot join us today.  As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelization, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations.  They labored not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good.  Today you carry on that work of love.  Like them, you are called to build bridges, to pasture Christ’s flock, and to prepare fresh paths for the Gospel in Asia at the dawn of a new age.
            “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14).  In today’s first reading Saint Paul tells us that the love we are called to proclaim is a reconciling love, flowing from the heart of the crucified Savior.  We are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20).  Ours is a ministry of reconciliation.  We proclaim the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion.  We proclaim the joy of the Gospel.  For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world.  It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.
            To be an ambassador for Christ means above all to invite everyone to a renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus (Evangelii Gaudium, 3).  This invitation must be at the core of your commemoration of the evangelization of the Philippines.  But the Gospel is also a summons to conversion, to an examination of our consciences, as individuals and as a people.  As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ.  The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good.  But it also calls Christian communities to create “circles of integrity”, networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness. The poor… The poor are at the centre of the Gospel, are at the heart of the Gospel. If we take away the poor from the Gospel, we cannot understand the whole message of Jesus Christ. 
            As ambassadors for Christ, we, bishops, priests and religious, ought to be the first to welcome his reconciling grace into our hearts.  Saint Paul makes clear what this means.  It means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ.  It means being the first to examine our consciences, to acknowledge our failings and sins, and to embrace the path of constant conversion. Constant conversion, everyday conversion.  How can we proclaim the newness and liberating power of the Cross to others, if we ourselves refuse to allow the word of God to shake our complacency, our fear of change, our petty compromises with the ways of this world, our “spiritual worldliness” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 93)?
            For us priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer.  The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal!  For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity.  For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others.  The great danger to this, of course, is a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer.  Only by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping away our complacency, will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters.  We will see things in a new light and thus respond with honesty and integrity to the challenge of proclaiming the radicalism of the Gospel in a society which has grown comfortable with social exclusion, polarization and scandalous inequality.
            Here I would like to address a special word to the young priests, religious and seminarians among us.  I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers.  Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope.  Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets.  Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.  As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.
            Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith.  Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary.  This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential.  It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 122).  In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.
            Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him (cf. 2 Cor 5:15).  Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters.  In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope urges Filipino Church to combat inequality and injustice

(Vatican Radio) Celebrating Mass in Manila’s Cathedral on Friday, Pope Francis urged Catholics in the Philippines to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, proclaiming the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. Speaking to bishops, priests, religious and seminarians gathered in the Cathedral, the Pope said the Church in the Philippines is called…
Read more

Pope urges Filipino Church to combat inequality and injustice

(Vatican Radio) Celebrating Mass in Manila’s Cathedral on Friday, Pope Francis urged Catholics in the Philippines to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, proclaiming the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. Speaking to bishops, priests, religious and seminarians gathered in the Cathedral, the Pope said the Church in the Philippines is called…
Read more

Pope Francis urges Filipino leaders to reject corruption

(Vatican Radio) At the start of his first full day in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Pope Francis met with President Benigno Aquino, together with other political leaders, urging them to reject corruption and promote “honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good”. Speaking to the civil authorities and diplomats gathered in Manila’s Rizal Cerimonial Hall on Friday, the Pope spoke of the need to defend families, young people and the elderly, ensuring social justice and respect for the human dignity of all.
Pope Francis is making a three day pastoral visit to the Philippines and is scheduled to travel on Saturday to the central city of Tacloban, southest of the capital, where he’ll meet survivors of the devastating typhoon Yolanda that left over seven thousand people dead or missing in November 2013.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the authorities and diplomatic corps in Manila’s  Malacañang Palace on Friday  January 16
Ladies and Gentlemen,
            I thank you, Mr President, for your kind welcome and for your words of greeting in the name of the authorities and people of the Philippines, and the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps.  I am most grateful for your invitation to visit the Philippines.  My visit is above all pastoral.  It comes as the Church in this country is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores.  The Christian message has had an immense influence on Filipino culture.  It is my hope that this important anniversary will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity and aspirations of the Filipino people.
            In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda.  Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others.  Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young.  In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbors in need.  At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good. 
            This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson.  Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges.  Today the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions.  As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.  In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country.  Thus will they be able to marshall the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.
            Essential to the attainment of these national goals is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity.  The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor.  It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities.  Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart.  The Bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the “Year of the Poor”.  I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community. 
            A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played, of course, by the family and especially by young people.  A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with families and with young people here in Manila.  Families have an indispensable mission in society.  It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others.  But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed.  It needs our support.  We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.  For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity – one which honors goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.
            Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends:
            As I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia.  I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live.  It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement.  May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development.  In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country.  I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal.  In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities.
            Upon all of you, and upon all the men, women and children of this beloved nation, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis urges Filipino leaders to reject corruption

(Vatican Radio) At the start of his first full day in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Pope Francis met with President Benigno Aquino, together with other political leaders, urging them to reject corruption and promote “honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good”. Speaking to the civil authorities and diplomats gathered in Manila’s Rizal…
Read more