(Vatican Radio) The head of the U.S Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, says Pope Francis will come to his country as a pastor and a prophet, to walk with people but also to challenge them to conversion of heart.
With less than a month to go before the papal plane touches down in Washington DC at the start of the Pope’s week-long visit to the U.S, Archbishop Kurtz joined other American Church leaders to brief journalists at the annual Religion Newswriters’ Association Conference, which concluded in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The president of the USCCB spoke of the central theme of the family, which the Pope will address as he closes the 8th World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. But he also pointed to freedom of religion and faith in action in service to the poor and needy as important challenges the Pope will deliver to American Catholics during the September 22nd to 27th visit.
Philippa Hitchen caught up with Archbishop Kurtz during the conference and asked him about the practical preparations for this eagerly anticipated papal visit….
The president of the USCCB says that while the papal visit will be hectic, he hopes that people don’t work so hard to prepare that they forget to enjoy and to really welcome the Holy Father to the United States, noting that the Pope himself often says, “don’t be Martha all the time, be Mary…” He says he hopes the trip will be a chance for American Catholics to show their loyalty and gratitude but also for the Pope to appreciate the richeness of the U.S. Church and to challenge it a little…
Asked about recent polls showing that half the American population does not know about the papal visit, Archbishop Kurtz admits that most people “are more aware of the NFL season, what football games are coming up”. “That’s part of our culture”, he says, “let’s be realistic about that”. But he says he hopes the interest of the 8.000 journalists already accredited to cover the visit will offer opportunities “to touch the lives of many people” during the trip.
Archbishop Kurtz adds that he has visited President Obama and the leaders of Congress and found “a great desire to welcome” among them. Although he says he is concerned about the way soundbites can reduce the meaning of the Pope’s message, he hopes that people will “hear the full teachings” that Pope Francis is bringing
(from Vatican Radio)…
The general prayer intention of Pope Francis is for thejobless youth: that opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people. The Holy Father is greatly concerned about high jobless rates among young people, saying they are becoming a lost generation – victim of today’s “throw-away” culture that casts aside anyone who is not profitable economically. It’s painful to see young people on the lookout for their first job turned away for lack of previous experience, thus nipping them in the bud. The Pope says the problem is more than merely economic. It is a problem of dignity. Without work, one cannot have the experience of dignity which comes from being able to put food on the table and to have a family and a home. Pope Francis stressed that high unemployment among youth is a crisis of the family, “a true social plague” that leaves young people feeling useless. If the youth are deprived of hope, then the very future and hope of society and of the Church is jeopardized. Let’s therefore join Pope Francis in his general prayer campaign during September and in saying “no” to the throw-away culture and “yes” to increased opportunities for education and employment for young people everywhere, for they are truly the future of humanity.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday. In remarks to the faithful ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel reading for this Sunday, August 30, the 22 nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, taken from the 7 th Chapter of the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. The reading recounts the questions certain Scribes and Pharisees put to Our Lord, regarding His and the disciples’ observance of certain long-standing customs – or their lack of observance – specifically concerning practices associated with ritual purity.
Click below to hear our report
“The literal observance of precepts,” explained Pope Francis, “will be fruitless if [said observance] does not change the heart and does not translate into concrete attitudes: opening oneself to encounter with God and His Word in prayer; to seeking justice and peace; to assisting the poor, the weak, the oppressed.” The Holy Father went on to say, “We all know, in our communities, in our parishes, in our neighborhoods, how much harm do people do to the Church, how much scandal do they give, who say they are Catholic and very often go to church, but later, in their daily lives, neglect the family, speak ill of others and so on. This is what Jesus condemned, for this is a Christian counter-witness.”
“The border between good and evil passes not outside of us but within us,” Pope Francis continued. “We can ask ourselves: ‘where is my heart?’ Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there is your heart.’ So, what is my treasure? Is it Jesus, is it His doctrine? Then the heart is good. Or is the treasure something else?” The Holy Father went on to explain that the heart, insofar as it loves that, which is not Christ and His doctrine, must be purified and converted. “Without a purified heart,” he said, “you cannot have truly clean hands and lips that speak sincere words of love.” Pope Francis said, “This only the sincere and purified heart can do.”
The Holy Father concluded his remarks ahead of the Angelus by asking the Lord, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, to give us a clean heart, a heart free from hypocrisy so that we are able to live according to the spirit of the law and to achieve the law’s true purpose, which is perfection of charity.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a twofold appeal on Sunday: for persecuted Christians and for all persons forced to flee their homes in search of a peaceful and secure existence in foreign lands. Recalling the beatification on Saturday in Harissa, Lebanon, of the martyred Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavyānus Mikhayil Melkī , Eparch of Gazarta – or what is Cizre in modern-day Turkey, who was killed in Gazarta during the sayfo or “putting to the sword” of Syrians in 1915, after he refused to convert to Islam, Pope Francis said, “Even today, in the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted,” and expressed the hope that the beatification of this Bishop Martyr might instill in them consolation, courage and hope. The Holy Father went on to say, “Let it also be a stimulus to legislators and government leaders to guarantee religious freedom everywhere, and to the international community to put an end to the violence and oppression.”
Pope Francis also asked the faithful to pray especially for the migrants, who have lost their lives while in flight from situations of persecution, instability, and even social and economic failure, in search of a better life. Promising continued prayers of his own as well for all the victims, the Pope joined himself especially to the prayers of the Church in Austria – represented at the Angelus by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn – for the seventy-one people who perished inside a truck found on the side of the highway connecting Vienna and Budapest this past week. “We entrust each of them to the mercy of God,” said Pope Francis, “and we ask Him to help us to work together effectively to prevent these crimes, which offend the entire human family.”
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of the Holy Father’s appeals
Dear brothers and sisters,
[Saturday], in Harissa, Lebanon, the Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavyānus Mikhayil Melkī, martyr. In the context of a terrible persecution of Christians, he was a tireless defender of the rights of his people, urging all to remain firm in the faith. Even today, dear brothers and sisters, in the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. There are more martyrs [in this day and age] than there were in the first centuries [of the Church]. May the beatification of this Bishop-martyr instill in them consolation, courage and hope. Let it also be a stimulus to legislators and government leaders to insure religious freedom everywhere; and to the international community to put an end to violence and oppression.
Unfortunately, in recent days many migrants have lost their lives in their terrible travel. For all these brothers and sisters, I pray and ask you to pray. In particular, I join Cardinal Schönborn – who is here today – and the whole Church in Austria in prayer for the seventy-one people, including four children, found in a truck on the Vienna-Budapest highway. We entrust each of them to the mercy of God; and we ask Him to help us to work together effectively to prevent these crimes, which offend the entire human family.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the current migrant crisis is a “global problem”, and called on the international community to join forces.
Cardinal Parolin was speaking on the side lines of a surprise visit to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, made famous for being the hospital which treated Pope St. John Paul II.
Cardinal Parolin acknowledged that “some people have invoked the United Nations,” adding that he thinks it is “a global problem that needs a response from different levels,” but that it should “involve everyone.”
He called on people to “overcome polemics” and “make an examination of conscience on these issues,” including the Church.
“Polemics does nothing to solve problems, but rather exacerbates the hardships, and exacerbates tempers,” Cardinal Parolin said.
Meanwhile, during his homily at the Mass he celebrated at the hospital, Cardinal Parolin said “nothing can be as disastrous for the faith and for culture and medical care, as losing sight of the whole person.”
Cardinal Parolin said recent events show that approaches to health care which ignore the Christian “anthropological vision” eventually prove to be “inadequate.”
Alluding to the Parable of the Sower, he said that if “good intentions” are not rooted in the Gospel, they are almost always “drowned out by the needs of the hegemonic culture” or by interests and compromises which “have nothing to do with the needs of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
(from Vatican Radio)…