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Day: May 4, 2015

Pope Francis welcomes head of Lutheran Church of Sweden

(Vatican Radio) Catholic-Lutheran dialogue was under the spotlight in the Vatican on Monday as Pope Francis met with the head of the Church of Sweden and Archbishop of Uppsala Antje Jackelén. Originally from Germany, Archbishop Jackelén is Sweden’s first foreign-born archbishop since the 12th century and the first female head of the Church there. Philippa Hitchen reports….

The importance of actively promoting Christian unity, the impact of the forthcoming joint commemoration of the Reformation and the need to work together on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Those were among the key themes that Pope Francis focused on in his words to Archbishop Jackelén, noting that the Vatican II document,  ‘Unitatis Redintegratio’ , half a century ago, invites all Catholics to read the signs of the times and overcome the divisions that cause scandal and hinder the preaching of the Gospel.
While there is still much work to be done, the Pope said he hoped the 2017 commemoration of the Reformation and the recent joint document ‘ From Conflict to Communion ’ may encourage Lutherans and Catholics to take further steps towards full unity of sacramental life and ecclesial ministry.
In particular Pope Francis spoke of the need for a common commitment of Christians towards those who are most in need, building on the shared witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Key contemporary questions of the dignity of human life, family and sexuality must not be ignored, he said, out of fear of endangering the ecumenical consensus that’s already been achieved.
Finally the Pope added his personal thanks to the Lutheran Church in Sweden for its welcome of so many South American migrants who fled from the dictatorships on that continent during past decades. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis visited another parish in his diocese – Santa Maria Regina Pacis at the Ostia Lido. Before celebrating Mass, the bishop of Rome visited the community of the Little Sisters of Jesus, of Charles de Foucauld, also known as the “Luna Park Fraternity” since they live in caravans, and met with the elderly, the sick, and young scouts from the parish, as well as parents who have baptised their children this year. The Pope greeted the elderly, emphasising that they possess the wisdom of life, experience, pain and patience, as well as the memory of the people and the family. He remarked that the sick “resemble Jesus: they suffer like Jesus and bear the cross like Jesus”, and praised the parish community for lovingly caring for the sick and the elderly, since “when they are not cared for by the community, that community does not function; it lacks something”. To the scouts, he commented that “in the art of climbing, the important thing is not that you do not fall, but rather that you do not stay on the ground”. He continued, “We all fall, we all make mistakes, even sins, all of us. But what is witness? It is getting up again with God’s grace. … This is what the world needs from you, the witness of going ever onwards; although weak, we must go ahead”. He also encouraged the young to transmit their faith with joy and, in difficult moments when joy is obscured, to “overcome those moments with dignity, in the hope that the Holy Spirit gives us strength … and consolation … until our joy returns”. Finally, he reminded the parents of recently baptised children that baptism is not an isolated event, and invited them to walk with their children along the new path of faith, staying close to the parish community. In the Pope’s homily, in which he commented on the Gospel reading of the vine and the branches, he insisted on the importance of remaining united with Christ, which also means “wanting to be forgiven by Him, but also to be ‘pruned’, so as to bear more fruit”. He added, “abiding with Jesus means doing the same as He did: doing good, helping others, praying to the Father, healing the sick, helping the poor, having the joy of the Holy Spirit”. “There are also other branches, to which Jesus does not refer here, but He does so elsewhere; those that present themselves as Jesus’ disciples, but do the opposite of what a disciple does, and these branches are hypocrites. Perhaps they go to Mass every Sunday, perhaps they show themselves to be saintly and pious, but then they live as if they were pagans. And Jesus, in the Gospel, calls them hypocrites. Jesus is good, he invites us to abide in Him. He gives us strength, and so if we slide into sinfulness – and we are all sinners – He forgives us, because He is merciful. But He wants two things – that we abide in Him and that we are not hypocrites. And this is how Christian lives go onwards”….

Caritas Internationalis prepares for its big General Assembly

As various representatives, directors and Bishop-directors of Caritas around the world prepare to come for the 20th Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, Michelle Hough of Caritas Internationalis Rome, Monday briefed Vatican Radio staff on the pending assembly.
Hough, who is from the Rome-based Caritas Internationalis’ press office, told Vatican Radio staff that, the Assembly will work towards coming up with a strategic framework that will anchor the work of Caritas for the next four years. The theme of the General Assembly is, “One Human Family, Caring for Creation.”
“Caritas organisations all over the world will be aiming at coming up with a strategic plan that can galvanize the world to protect both people and our planet from the impact of climate change, rising inequality and a ‘globalisation of indifference,’” she said.
Hough also told Vatican Radio that the Caritas family in preparing for the General assembly has kept at the back of its mind the fact that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are coming to an end this year, 2015. Caritas also wishes by its work, to support the much awaited encyclical on environment that Pope Francis will issue, this summer.
The Caritas Internationalis General Assembly is expected to host representatives from approximately 160 countries. It is scheduled to take place from 12 May to 17 May. The event will be held at the Domus Mariae and Domus Pacis Torre Rossa Park hotel in Rome.
According to Hough, “On Tuesday evening 12 May, delegates will attend Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica,” she said.
Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga who will preside at the Assembly is stepping down as Caritas Internationalis President. This means the General Assembly will also elect a new President.
Caritas Internationalis has invited guest speakers who include the famous Liberation theologian, Fr Gustavo Gutierrez of Lima in Peru. Other speakers invited are Jeffrey Sachs, an internationally acclaimed economic development expert and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals. Beverley Haddad, an Associate Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa will also speak, as a guest.
After the General Assembly, Caritas delegates will head to Milan for the EXPO 2015 that opened last week. The delegates will participate in the official EXPO Caritas Day on 19 May. This is part of Caritas’ “One Human Family, Food for All” campaign which aims to end hunger by 2025.
Caritas Internationalis describes itself as the official humanitarian and development organisation of the Catholic Church. It’s a confederation of national Catholic aid and development organisations. Member organisations come together every four years for the General Assembly, the highest governing body of the confederation.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo)
e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va
(from Vatican Radio)…

?The Pope asks the bishops of the Republic of the Congo to be models of reconciliation – Renewed fraternity

“Continue to be models
and prophets” with the mission of “reconciling hearts, drawing divided
communities together and building renewed fraternity anchored in forgiveness
and solidarity”. Pope Francis called the bishops of the Republic of the Congo to this on Monday
morning, 4 May. The bishops were visiting the Vatican for their ‘ad limina
visit’. Recalling “the wounds caused by the serious crisis” which struck the
country in the late 1990s, the Pontiff called the prelates to manifest
ecclesial communion in concrete ways. “It’s important”, he said, “that you can,
with one voice, use strong words inspired by the Gospel to guide and enlighten
your fellow citizens in every aspect of community life, in difficult moments
for the nation or when the circumstances require it”. And in that respect, the
Pope noted that the episcopate’s efforts in view of an ever greater plan, must continue “so that unity in diversity is one
of the central characteristics and together with the needs of the Church”. This cohesion, he noted, “not only will allow
you always to defend the common good and also the good of the Church in any
circumstance, but will also support your efforts in working with the many
pastoral challenges”, including the proliferation of sects, the Pope note. …

Pope Francis sends message to mark Dante Alighieri anniversary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi on the occasion of a celebration held at the Italian Senate on Monday morning marking the 750th anniversary of the birth of the poet Dante Alighieri.
Listen to this report by Lydia O’Kane

In the message, the Pope began by saying that he joined “the chorus of those who believe Dante Alighieri is an artist of the highest universal value, who still has much to say and to give, through his immortal works, to all those who are willing to walk the path of true knowledge”.
He said that a number of his predecessors including Blessed Paul VI , Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had referred to Dante in Papal documents.
The Holy Father added that he himself in his first encyclical Lumen Fidei, chose to tap into the immense wealth of images, symbols, values contained in Dante’s works.
On the eve of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope said it was his hope that the celebrations of the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, like those in preparation for the VII centenary of His death in 2021, could again make Dante’s work understood and valued.
Through his writings, Dante, concluded  Pope Francis, is a man who invites us to regain the path of our human journey and the hope to once again see the bright horizon where shines the full dignity of the human person. 
(from Vatican Radio)…