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Day: April 4, 2017

Pope Francis meets British royals Charles and Camilla

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Tuesday with the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
The meeting came on the fourth day of an Italian tour which has taken the prince to the northern city of Vicenza for a First World War commemoration, to the earthquake hit town of Amatrice in central Italy, and to Florence, where he visited a Caritas-run project for immigrants, the elderly and single mothers.
The Duchess also spent a day in Naples meeting with trafficked women and youngsters with learning difficulties at a former Mafia villa which was confiscated by the State.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:

A press release from the British embassy to the Holy See said that during the papal audience in the Paul VI hall the pope and the prince talked about a number of topics of mutual interest.
They also exchanged gifts: Pope Francis gave the royal couple a bronze representation of an olive branch, and copies of his three major documents, ‘ Laudato Sì ’, ‘ Evangelii Gaudium ’ and ‘ Amoris Laetitia ’.
Prince Charles presented the Holy Father with a hamper of food from the royal estate at Highgrove, to be shared among the poor and homeless.
The half hour private meeting was reportedly relaxed and informal, marking the prince’s fourth visit to the Vatican but his first encounter with Pope Francis. Given their shared concern for the environment, it’s likely that protection of the planet featured prominently in the conversation.  
Accepting an award in Florence on Monday, the prince spoke of the interdependence of human beings with the natural world, as well as highlighting the vital contribution of the UK and Italy to global peacekeeping.
Interfaith dialogue may also have been a topic for discussion: among those meeting the prince earlier in the day at the Venerable English College was English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and four Muslim leaders from the UK, who will have their own papal audience on Wednesday morning.
Before leaving the Vatican Prince Charles met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See Secretary of State. The royal couple were also given a tour of the Vatican library and secret archives, allowing them to see some of the priceless historical documents preserved in both collections.
These included the last letter written by condemned Mary Queen of Scots in 1587, before her execution for treason; another letter by Pope Paul IV condemning Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, one of the leaders of the English Reformation; and a letter by King Charles I approving the appointment of his ambassador in Rome.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Card Parolin celebrates Mass for Populorum Progressio anniversary

(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 50th anniversary of the encyclical ‘ Populorum Progressio ’.
During his homily for the Mass on Monday, Cardinal Parolin thanked the members and consultors of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care, and Cor Unum for their collaboration and service as the Councils were merged into the new Dicastery for Integral Human Development.
“The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry. The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person.”
Cardinal Parolin said the new Dicastery “will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country. This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice.”
Please find below the original English version of the homily:
Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I offer a warm greeting to all of you, representatives of the offices of the Roman Curia and of the rich variety of ecclesial realties from various continents.  A special greeting goes to the Members and Consultors who have served the universal Church by collaborating with the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care and Cor Unum, which, on 1 January 2017, merged to form the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry.  The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person.
It is significant – even providential – that the creation of the new Dicastery coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio of Blessed Paul VI, which the Conference that we inaugurate today is meant to commemorate.
I readily recall that this Encyclical, the preparation of which began in 1963, was published on 26 March 1967, Easter Day, causing some to speak of the “Encyclical of the Resurrection”, aimed at shedding the light of the Gospel and the Resurrection on the social problems of the time.
In the Encyclical, Paul VI outlined the principles of a new “universal humanism”.  These were taken up twenty years later by Saint John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and once again, forty years later, by Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate.  They have also been tirelessly reiterated by Pope Francis, who, often without it being recognized, draws inspiration from the vision of his predecessor.  Pope Paul’s vision continues to be completely timely in its dramatic and radical diagnosis: “Human society is sorely ill.  The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations” (No. 66).
The treatment proposed by the Holy Father also remains valid and timely: namely, a human development that is both “integral” and “fraternal”.  The Encyclical sets out the coordinates of an integral development of the human person and a fraternal development of humanity, two themes which can be considered as the axes around which the text is structured.  Development consists in the passage from less humane living conditions to more humane living conditions: “What are less than human conditions?  The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions.
What are truly human conditions?  The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life’s necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture.  From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people’s dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace.  Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end.  Finally and above all, there is faith – God’s gift to men of good will – and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God’s life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men” (No. 21).
But how do we arrive at this development?  It is significant that Pope Benedict XVI, in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which was intended “to pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI,” wished to emphasize the extent to which “development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us.  For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love” (No. 79)
God is Alpha and Omega.  God is the origin and goal of human development, which is always his gift.  For our part, we need to receive from on high the gifts of truth and love in order to become bearers, stewards and multipliers of those same gifts, especially for the benefit of those in greatest need.  This means promoting, in the light of the Christian message, a world where none are marginalized or prey to persistent violence and extreme poverty, a world without globalized indifference to the needs of others.
Today’s readings offer an invitation and an encouragement to lift up our eyes to God, in whose name is our help.  The first reading admonishes us: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).  There is no lack of debates and strategies for eliminating conditions that violate human dignity, for overcoming the manifold injustices, both individual and structural, encountered on a daily basis, and for proposing a future of general well-being.  Yet solutions are often proposed that contradict those good intentions, favouring economic and military power in relations with others, choosing power, in whatever form it is expressed.  Loving in deed and in truth means substituting “the love of power” with “the power of love”.  For what is the power of Jesus Christ, if not the power of an ultimately unsettling love (cf. Jn 13:1), a love that, the more we reflect on it, the more our self-regard diminishes and God’s dominion in our life increases?
The Gospel passage we have just heard speaks clearly and dramatically of the importance of concrete actions.  It is charity that leads to salvation and entrance into the Kingdom.  “Come, O blessed of my Father… I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:34-36).  It matters not to which race, religion, ethnic or social group people belong, in order to receive charity from the disciples of Jesus.  This universality is truly radical.  Every act of solidarity is shown to the Lord, present in the person who is suffering.  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
This is the horizon against which the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development must operate.  It will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country.  This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice.
As the Encyclical Populorum Progressio reminds us: “The development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone.  To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man… What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.” (No. 14).
In the Motu Proprio Humanam Progressionem (31 August 2016), Pope Francis stated his reasons for establishing the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development: “so that the Holy See may be solicitous in [the] areas [of “attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation”], as well as in those regarding health and charitable works…  This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.”
These are the forms of marginalization, suffering, injustice and hurt to which we must bring the oil of mercy and justice, hope and new life.
Do not be frightened by the immensity of the challenges that lie ahead of you, or by the limited nature of the means at your disposal.  Do not reject or undervalue any contribution that may be suggested.  For such contributions will be the result of cooperation between the Superiors and Officials of the new Dicastery, drawing on the competence and experience of each of the bodies that have merged into it, together with the authoritative assistance of the Members and Consultors.  And, as Blessed Paul VI wished, your work will be carried out in harmonious cooperation with the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with other Christians and believers, with all people of good will, and with political and cultural leaders (Populorum Progressio, Nos. 81-86)
No one is too small to play a part in helping development to serve all humanity and the whole human person.  We think of the account of the multiplication of the loaves: it was a young person who enabled Jesus to feed the crowd (cf. Jn 6:9).  We think too of today’s Gospel and the parable of the Last Judgment.
With the merging of the former Dicasteries, you have now become a single body with different functions, each at the service of the other, like the Church herself, which is the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-30).  “We must travel this road together,” Paul VI urged, “united in minds and hearts.” No. 80).  United and concerned for one another, you will be all the stronger in your efforts to attain the goals set for you.
So do not be afraid of swimming against the tide in proclaiming the Gospel of our salvation, in centres and on the peripheries.  The dialogue between cultures and religions, peace, disarmament and the reconciliation between individuals and peoples, a correct anthropology of the person and of the family, migration: all these and many more questions call for generous commitment on the part of all.  Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty.  Like Jesus, bend down to embrace every human situation with generosity and dedication, to save lives and to instil hope, peace and justice in the world.
May the Lord bless the mission of the new Dicastery and your tireless labour in his vineyard.  Amen.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope’s prayer intention for April: Youth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April is dedicated to Youth : ‘For young people, that they might know how to respond generously to the vocation God has given them, and immerse themselves in the great causes of the world.’
The  Apostleship of Praye r has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention.

The full text of the Pope’s Video is below:
I know that you, young people, don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you aim high. Is that true, or am I wrong?
Don’t leave it to others to be the protagonists of change.
You, young people, are the ones who hold the future!  I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world.  It is a challenge, yes it is a challenge. Do you accept it?
Pray with me that young people may respond generously to their own vocation and mobilize for the great causes of the world.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: ‘the Cross is not a badge of belonging’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday told Christians not to wear the crucifix only as a symbol of belonging but to look to Jesus on the Cross as He who died for our salvation.
The Pope’s words came during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta . 
Three times, Pope Francis said, in today’s liturgical reading Jesus says to the Pharisees: “You will die in your sins”. That’s because their hearts were closed and they did not understand the mystery of the Lord. “To die in your sins” he said, is a bad thing.
Reflecting on the First Reading in which the Lord tells Moses to make a saraph serpent and mount it on a pole and “whoever looks at it after being bitten will live,” the Pope said the serpent is “the symbol of the devil,” the father of lies, he who caused humanity to sin.
And he recalled that Jesus said “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own.” This, Francis said, is the mystery of the Cross.
“The bronze serpent was the sign of two things: the sign of sin and of the seductive power of sin”, and it was a prophecy of the Cross, he said. 
The Cross, he continued, is not only a symbol of belonging, but it is the memory of God who was made sin for love. As Saint Paul says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin”.
Taking upon Himself all the filth of humanity, the Pope said, He was lifted so that all men wounded by sin would be able to see Him.
“Salvation comes only from the Cross, from this Cross that is God made flesh” he said.
And he pointed out: “There is no salvation in ideas, there is no salvation in good will, in the desire to be good … The only salvation is in the crucified Christ, because like the bronze serpent, He was able to take all the poison of sin and heal us.”
Then the Pope asked: “what is the Cross for you? Yes, it is the Christian symbol. We make the sign of the Cross, but often we do not do it well…”
For some, he said, the Cross is like a badge of belonging, they wear it to show they are Christians, or even in search of visibility, they wear it as an ornament decorated with precious gems.
But, he reminded the faithful: “God said to Moses “whoever looks at the serpent will live”; and Jesus said to his enemies “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am the son of God”. 
He who does not look to the Cross with faith, the Pope said, will die in his sins, will not receive salvation.
Today, Pope Francis said, the Church proposes “a dialogue with the Mystery of the Cross, with God who became sin for our sake”.
“Each of us can say He became sin ‘for love of me’” he said.
Inviting all faithful to think about how theywear the Cross, and how aware they are when making the sign of the cross, the Pope concluded asking each of us to look to this God who became sin so that we do not die in our sins, and to reflect on the questions just suggested.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope to meet Prince Charles and Camilla as part of Italian tour

(Vatican Radio) British heir to the throne, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, meet with Pope Francis on Tuesday afternoon as part of their five day visit to Italy.
The Prince will also hold talks with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See Secretary of State, and the Vatican ‘foreign minister’ Archbishop Paul Gallagher, as well as with other Vatican officials at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Before the papal audience, the royal couple will be shown some of the rare documents contained in the Vatican library and secret archive..
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: 

The British heir to the throne began his Italian tour in the northern city of Vicenza, where he visited a Commonwealth cemetery, laying a wreath in memory of soldiers of different nationalities who died during the deployment of British forces to the Austrian front of the First World War one hundred years ago.
His wife, Camilla, meanwhile, spent the day in Naples, meeting with trafficked women and youngsters with learning difficulties at a former Mafia villa which was confiscated by the State. She also visited the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum which was destroyed by the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
On Sunday Prince Charles toured the earthquake hit town of Amatrice in central Italy, walking amid the rubble and talking to some of the survivors of the quake that killed nearly 300 people and left thousands of others homeless.
The Duchess of Cornwall spent Sunday in Florence, visiting the Uffizi Gallery but also St Mark’s Anglican church in the city centre and revealing that her great-grandmother had lived in the city during the last years of her life.
The royal couple stayed in Florence on Monday, visiting the Caritas-run Casa San Paolino which cares for around 80 people, including single mothers with children, homeless immigrants and the elderly. They also toured an internationally renowned art restoration workshop and visited an organic food market with the founder of Italy’s Slow Food movement Carlo Petrini.
Later Prince Charles was presented with a Renaissance Man of the Year award, recognizing his achievements in the fields of philanthropy and the arts. In his acceptance speech, he highlighted the vital contribution of the UK and Italy to global peacekeeping, but also focused on the interdependence of human beings with the natural world.
The royal couple’s last engagements in Italy include a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella and an encounter at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation. They fly on to Austria on Wednesday afternoon for the final leg of their nine-day European tour.
(from Vatican Radio)…