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Day: April 8, 2016

Pope Francis celebrates Mass for Centro Aletti

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday evening said the path of the Christian does not tolerate climbers, who show off and strut when following Jesus.
The Holy Father was speaking during a Mass for members of the Centro Aletti, a center for study and research attached to the mission of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
During his homily the Pope spoke of the joy of being worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus, adding persecution and suffering are part of Christian witness.
The Mass took place in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, the mosaics of which were done by the Director of the Centro Aletti, Father Marko Rupnik, SJ.
The Centro Aletti is mainly for scholars and artists with a Christian perspective from Central and Eastern Europe, with the aim of giving them an opportunity to meet with their Western colleagues.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Presentation of Pope Francis’ new document on family life

(Vatican Radio) Minutes after its publication on Friday, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the family was being scrutinized and commented on in countries across the globe.   
The lengthy document, entitled ‘ Amoris Laetitia ’,  or The Joy of Love, draws together the work of the last two Synods of Bishops, affirming the Church’s teaching that stable families are the building blocks of a healthy society and a place where children learn to love, respect and interact with others.
But at the same time, the text warns against idealizing the many challenges facing family life, urging Catholics to care for, rather than condemning, those whose lives do not reflect the teaching of the Church.
Philippa Hitchen went along to the press conference where the document was presented by Cardinals Christoph Schonborn and Lorenzo Baldisseri, together with an Italian married couple who took part in the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the family…

It was significant that Cardinal Schonborn of  Vienna, son of divorced parents, was selected to present the key concepts at the heart of this new document. Important too, that he suggested bishops should read the text with the help of married men and women, who are grappling with all the daily frustrations and “mixtures of enjoyment and struggles” that family life presents. Because in its nine chapters, he says, Pope Francis speaks about families with a clarity that’s hard to find in any other teaching documents of the Church.
Having said that, be warned this is not a text that can be read in a hurry, or summarized in a few sentences. It ranges from biblical and spiritual reflections on the family, through very practical discussions on love, sexuality and the education of children, to the many contemporary challenges of unemployment, inadequate housing, migration and violence that have an especially damaging effect on families.
But throughout its 250 pages, as the Austrian cardinal made clear, “something has changed” in the way the Church speaks about people’s personal lives. Judgmental expressions like ‘living in sin’ or ‘irregular situations’, he says, have been replaced by a language of welcome, inclusion and accompanying every person, at whatever stage of life’s journey they find themselves. It’s clear, the document says, that “we need a healthy dose of self-criticism” to see how “the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people” has contributed to the crisis of family life today.
It’s not just a linguistic change either. At the core of Pope Francis’ vision in this text is the concept of “personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases”, recognizing that the Church cannot simply judge all marital breakdowns or non-conventional relationships in the same way. Instead, pastors must learn to listen to each person’s story and “make room for the consciences of the faithful….who are capable of carrying out their own discernment” in very complex situations.
But what does this mean in practice, I hear you ask? Well, the definitive answers, the cardinal said, are found in paragraph 300 where the Pope says “neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases”. One size just doesn’t fit all, as every parent knows perfectly well. Furthermore the Pope says, it’s not he, but the bishops in different countries who are best placed to “seek solutions” that are culturally sensitive to local traditions and practice.
Pope Francis trusts in the joy of love, though he does say he understands “those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion”. If we see everything as black and white, he warns, we close off God’s way of grace and growth. Instead we must respond to people with generous love to help them overcome barriers and be fully welcomed into the life of the Church. Including, if you read the footnotes carefully, with the help of the sacraments which are not “a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”.
So is this document overturning traditional Church teaching on marriage and the family? Absolutely not. The text is full of quotes from previous popes and is a passionate endorsement of the joy that family life can bring to mums and dads, kids and grandparents, aunts and uncles and the whole extended network of family life which still exists in many countries of the world today. And while it doesn’t provide cut and dried answers to all the challenges, it really does try to raise the questions and ensure that the Church keeps the door open to the ongoing conversation.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Presenting the Apostolic Exhortation harvesting the fruits of the two synods on the family in 2014 and 2015 – The Joy of Love

To clearly reaffirm not “the ideal” of the
family, but its rich and complex reality, in order to reflect on love in the
family together with the women and men of our time. With this purpose in mind,
on 19 March, the Solemnity of St Joseph, Pope Francis signed the Post-synodal
Apostolic Exhortation
Amoris Laetitia .
The highly anticipated document, presented in the Holy See Press Office on
Friday morning, 8 April, speaks the language of experience, offering an open
and profoundly positive outlook, which feeds not on abstractions or ideal
projections, but on pastoral attention to reality. The text, laden with
spiritual points and practical wisdom suitable to every couple and to those
people who hope to build a family, was the fruit of practical collaboration
with people who have experienced many years of family life.

vast Exhortation is divided into nine chapters and more than 300 paragraphs
which include the results of the two synods on the family convened by Pope
Francis in 2014 and 2105. The concluding reports of the two conferences are
largely cited, along with documents and teachings of his predecessors, and the
Pontiff’s own catecheses on the family. As he has done previously in other
circumstances, the Pope also drew from the contributions of various episcopal
conferences – among them those of Kenya, Australia and Argentina – and quoted
personages such as Martin Luther King and Erich Fromm, along with cues from the
world of cinema, such as Francis’ nod to the film
Babette’s Feast to
explain the concept of truly free giving.

prologue of
Amoris Laetitia is especially meaningful, highlighting the
complexity of the issues and the need for continued open discussion. It is in
fact the fruit of the interventions of the Synod Fathers, which have composed a
“multifaceted gem” for further reflection. In this regard the Pope makes clear
that “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral
issues need to be settled by
interventions of the magisterium”. Thus, for some issues, an individual country
or region “can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its
traditions and local needs. For ‘cultures are in fact quite diverse and every
general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and
applied’”. But Francis seeks to invite an immediate escape from the sterile
juxtaposition between fear of change and the pure and simple application of abstract
rules. “The debates carried on in the
media, in certain publications and even among the Church’s ministers”, he
writes, “range from an immoderate desire for total change without sufficient
reflection or grounding, to an attitude that would solve everything by applying
general rules or deriving undue conclusions from particular theological

Text of the Apostolic Exhortation

Papal Foundation gives $10 million to Pope Francis’ charities

(Vatican Radio) The Papal Foundation announced to Pope Francis today it will give $10 million US to support his charitable work around the world. Members of the Foundation enjoyed an audience with the Holy Father in the course of their pilgrimage to Rome which also coincides with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Listen to Alexander MacDonald’s report:

“We are called by Christ to share this mercy,” said Pope Francis, “with those who are spiritually and materially in need through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.” We do this with a spirit of generosity and tenderness that reflects God’s immeasurable goodness, he added.
He thanked the Papal Foundation for having the works of mercy at the heart of its mission and for generously supporting diocesan, parish and community projects around the world.
“Your charity reverberates throughout the world,” Pope Francis said, “offering new initiatives that help to extend the merciful embrace of the Father.”
The Papal Foundation was set up by US clergy and laity in 1988 as a sustainable way to support the Holy Father’s charitable priorities. Income generated from the $215 million fund creates a perpetual source of revenue but the fund does not invest in any companies that engage in activities inconsistent with the Catholic faith.
More than $15 million were distributed in 2015 for housing, hospitals, educational institutions and pro-life programs around the world. Since 1988 more than $121 million have been awarded.
Pope Francis concluded by praying that members of the Papal Foundation experience a new impetus to holiness on their pilgrimage, and above all, the gift of God’s mercy.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Cor Unum issues press release on collection for Ukraine

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council Cor Unum has released a press statement concerning the collection for Ukraine announced by Pope Francis:
“During the Regina Coeli of Sunday, 3 April, the Holy Father announced an extraordinary initiative in favor of those who are suffering the consequences of violence in Ukraine. To this end it, a collection is expected to be taken in churches in Europe on Sunday, 24 April. The proceeds from the collection will be added to a significant amount of money made available by the Holy Father which will benefit both residents in the affected areas and internally displaced persons. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is responsible for evaluating and approving the technical management of the funds, according to local projects reviewed by a special committee. By the end of April, a mission to Ukraine by Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, the Secretary of Cor Unum, is foreseen.” 
(from Vatican Radio)…