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Day: September 3, 2015

Pope Francis meets Israeli President in the Vatican

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin in the Vatican on Thursday (3rd August) and held talks that focused on the situation in the Middle East and bilateral relations. 
A statement was issued afterwards by the Holy See’s Press Office which said that in addition to meeting Pope Francis, the Israeli Head of State also held talks afterwards with the (Vatican) Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
It said during the “cordial discussions” the two parties discussed “the political and social situation in the Middle East plagued by various conflicts, paying particular attention to the situation concerning Christians and other minority groups.” They also stressed “the importance of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious leaders to promote reconciliation and peace.”
The statement went on to say that the talks covered “the need and the urgency to promote a climate of trust between Israelis and Palestinians and to restart direct negotiations to reach an accord that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, as a fundamental contribution to peace and stability in the region.”
Finally, the statement also said that the two parties held discussions on “several questions concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between the state authorities and the local Catholic community, and expressed the hope for a speedy conclusion of the Bilateral Accord that is currently being drawn up and for an appropriate solution to several questions of common interest including that regarding Christians schools in the nation.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Vatican: Promote the rights of Christian citizens of the Middle East

(Vatican Radio) Promote the rights of Christian citizens of the Middle East, and bring an end to persecution.
This was the message Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, brought to the “Interreligious Meeting on Supporting Citizenship Rights and Peaceful Coexistence: Challenges, Practices and Open Questions” which took place in Athens on September 2-3. The meeting was organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and KAICIID, and interreligious forum founded in 2012 by Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Spain.
“We are here to stand together in supporting all those who are suffering the consequences of the situation in the Middle East and seeking to facilitate peace and reconciliation through dialogue,” Fr. Ayuso said.
“The critical situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria and in other parts of the region where there is extensive violence and political conflict, is, as we know, placing long-established Christian communities in jeopardy as a result of their displacement,” he continued.
Father Ayuso reminded the participants of the “many times Pope Francis has wished to give voice to the atrocious, inhuman and unexplainable persecution of those in so many parts of the world – and above all among Christians – who are victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and in the silence of all the world.”
Mentioning the 7 points being covered by the meeting – status quo on security; citizenship; best practice in protecting religious minorities; reducing hate and violence; respect for all regardless of religious identity; commitment towards supporting citizenships rights of Christians in the Middle East; and engagement through dialogue – Father Ayuso said it invites the participants to “act and contribute in promoting citizenship and true coexistence for all.”
The Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue quoted the 6 August letter from Pope Francis to Bishop Lahham, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem for the Latins, Vicar Patriarchate for Jordan, in which the Holy Father said “world public opinion be ever more attentive, sensitive and participant in face of the persecutions carried out in dealings with Christians and, more in general, of religious minorities”… hoping that  “the International Community will not remain silent and inert in face of such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrying disregard of the most essential human rights and impedes the richness of coexistence among peoples, cultures and faiths.”
In conclusion, Father Ayuso cited the words of Pope Francis to the civil authorities of Albania during the Holy Father’s 21 September, 2014, visit to Tirana:
“The peaceful coexistence of different religious communities is an inestimable benefit to peace and to harmonious human advancement. This is something of value which needs to be protected and nourished each day, by providing an education which respects differences and particular identities, so that dialogue and cooperation for the good of all.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

The Pope to Schoenstatt priests: “keep your ear to God’s heart and your hand on the pulse of the time”

Vatican City, 3 September 2015 (VIS) – Contemplation, service, fraternity – three facets of priestly life that Pope Francis proposed to the participants in the general chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers. The Apostolic Schoenstatt Movement was founded on 18 October 1914 by Fr. Jose Kentenich as a path of spiritual renewal within the Catholic Church, and his name is drawn from the Marian shrine near Koblenz, Germany, which houses the image of Our Lady, and where there are the head offices of the movement’s communities, now present in 42 countries. The Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers was instituted by Fr. Jose Kentenich on 18 July 1965, in the service of the Apostolic Movement.
The Pope remarked that, after these years of progress, their concern is to “keep alive your foundational charism and the ability to communicate it to the young, so as to continue to inspire and support your lives and your mission. You are aware that a charism is not a museum piece, that remains intact in a display cabinet, to be contemplated alone. Fidelity, keeping the charism pure, does not in any way mean closing it in a sealed bottle, like distilled water, so that it is not contaminated by the outside world. … Fr. Kentenich expressed this very well when he said that it was necessary to keep an ear to God’s heart and a hand on the pulse of the time. … These are the two pillars of an authentic spiritual life”.
The Pope went on to speak about contact with God: “it is not a good approach to neglect prayer or, worse still, to abandon it with the excuse of a demanding ministry. … It would be a grave error to think that the charism stays alive focusing on external structures … or forms. God frees us from the spirit of functionalism. The vitality of the charism is rooted in the ‘first love’, renewed daily, in our willingness to listen and to respond with loving generosity. … May this healthy and necessary ‘decentralisation’ work in us, so that we set ourselves aside to allow Christ to occupy the centre of our life”.
The second pillar is formed by the expression “taking the pulse of the time”, that is, reality and people. “We must not be afraid of reality”, emphasised Francis. “Dialogue with God in prayer also leads us to listen to his voice in the people and the situations that surround us. We do not have two separate ears, one for God and one for reality. … When we meet with our brothers, especially those who in our eyes or in the eyes of the world are less agreeable, what do we see? Do we realise that God loves them, that they are of the same flesh that Christ assumed, or are we indifferent to their problems? … In prayer we learn not to pass by Christ Who suffers in His brothers. Let us learn to serve”.
“You are practically the last reality of the Movement founded by Fr. Kentenich, and this carries an important lesson, and is very good”, observed the Pope. “This fact of being the ‘last’ clearly reflects the role held by priests in relation to their brothers. The priest must never be above or in front of others, but instead must walk alongside them, loving them with the same love of Christ, Who came not to be served but rather to serve and to give His life in return for so many others. … Let us ask the Lord to give us shoulders as strong as His, to carry those who are without hope, those who seem lost, those to whom no-one offers a glance … and free us from ‘careerism’ in our priestly life”.
Finally, the Pope commented on priestly fraternity. “Please, never be alone”, he warned. “The presbyteral ministry cannot be conceived of in an individual or, worse still, individualist way. Fraternity is the great school of discipleship. … It is not we who choose our brothers, but we have the conscious and fruitful option to love them as they are, with their flaws and their virtues. … Please, may there not be any indifference in your communities. Behave as men: if disagreements or differences of opinion arise, do not worry: better the heat of the argument than the coldness of indifference, which is the real tomb of fraternal charity”.
At the end of the meeting the Pope gave three recommendations to the Schoenstatt priests. “Firstly, accompany and care for families, so that they are able to live the holy alliance of love and life, especially those who experience moments of crisis or difficulty. Secondly, and thinking of the upcoming jubilee of mercy, dedicate plenty of time to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Be great forgivers. … May you be witnesses of God’s mercy and tenderness in your communities. And thirdly, pray for me, as I need your prayers”, he concluded….

Pope Francis: The astonishment at the encounter with Jesus

(Vatican Radio) The capacity to recognize ourselves as sinners opens us to the astonishment at the encounter with Jesus: that was the message of Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass for the feast of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church.
Pope Francis’ homily focused on the day’s Gospel reading which tells the story of the miraculous catch of fish. After working throughout the night without catching anything, Peter, trusting in Jesus, cast his nets into the sea. The Holy Father used this story to speak about faith as an encounter with the Lord. First of all, he said, it pleases me to consider the fact that Jesus spent the greater part of His time in the street, with the people; then, later in evening, He went away by Himself to pray – but He encountered the people, He sought the people.” For our part, we have two ways of encountering the Lord. The first is that of Peter, of the Apostles, of the people:
“The Gospel uses the same word for these people, for the people, for the Apostles, for Peter: they were ‘astonished.’ ‘Astonishment, in fact, seized him, and all those with him.’ When this feeling of astonishment comes… And the people heard Jesus and what He said and felt this astonishment: ‘But this one speaks with authority. A man has never spoken with this [authority].’ Another group that encounters Jesus did not allow this astonishment to enter into their hearts. The doctors of the law heard Jesus, they made their calculations: “Well, he is intelligent, he is a man who says true things, but we do not agree with these things, no!’ They made their calculations, they kept their distance.”
The demons themselves, the Pope said, confessed – that is, they proclaimed – that Jesus was the “Son of God,” but like the doctors of the law and the wicked Pharisees, “they did not have the capacity for astonishment, they were closed up in their sufficiency, in their pride.” Peter recognized that Jesus is the Messiah, but confesses that he himself is a sinner:
“The demons arrive to tell the truth about Him, but say nothing about themselves. They cannot: their pride is so great it prevents them from saying it. The doctors of the law say: ‘But this is an intelligent man, a capable rabbi, he does miracles, eh!’ But they do not say: ‘We are proud, we are not sufficient, we are sinners. The inability to recognize ourselves as sinners keeps us far away from the true confession of Jesus Christ. And this is the difference.”
It is the difference between the humility of the publican who recognizes that he is a sinner and the pride of the Pharisee who speaks well of himself:
This ability to say that we are sinners opens us to the astonishment of the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter. Even in our parishes, in our societies, even among consecrated persons: How many people are capable of saying that Jesus is the Lord? So many! But how difficult it is to say sincerely: ‘I am a sinner.’ It’s easier to say it of others, eh? When one is gossiping, eh? ‘This, that, the other thing…’ We’re all doctors in that, aren’t we? To come to a true encounter with Christ the two-fold confession is necessary: ‘You are the Son of God, and I am a sinner’ – but not theoretically: ‘[I am a sinner] because of this, because of this, because of this, and because of this.’”
Peter, the Pope emphasized, then forgot the astonishment at the encounter and denied the Lord. But since “he was humble, he was permitted to encounter the Lord, and when their eyes met, he wept, he returned to the confession, ‘I am a sinner.’” Pope Francis concluded, “May the Lord grant us the grace to encounter Him, but also to allow ourselves to encounter Him. May He grant us the grace, which is so beautiful, of this astonishment at the encounter. And may He give us the grace of having in our life the two-fold confession: ‘You are the Son of living God; I believe it. And I am a sinner; I believe it.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Canonization Mass in Washington, DC, to be in Spanish

(Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Washington has announced the Mass of Canonization for Junípero Serra will be celebrated by Pope Francis in Spanish.
The ceremony will take place on 23 September at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, told local media there are several reasons for this linguistic choice, including the fact Spanish is the native language of Pope Francis, a native of Argentina.
“But it’s also a recognition of how large the Hispanic population in the United States is, and also because he is canonizing a Spanish speaker,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
The Cardinal also said it is appropriate for the first pope from the New World, to celebrate Mass in Spanish, since it is the “predominant language of the Western Hemisphere.”
Cardinal Wuerl said the Mass would not be entirely in Spanish, and a translation would be provided on a Jumbotron for non-Spanish speakers.
(from Vatican Radio)…