(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ meeting with the Coptic Orthodox leader, Pope Tawadros in Cairo on Friday will be an important sign of solidarity with Christians who suffer and die for their faith in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.
That’s the view of Msgr Gabriel Quicke who heads the office for dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity.
Last week he accompanied Cardinal Kurt Koch and Pope Francis’ private secretary to Egypt with a personal message of condolences in the wake of two bomb attacks on churches in Alexandria and Tanta , north of Cairo. The twin attacks on Palm Sunday, claimed by so-called Islamic State militants, left at least 45 people dead and dozens of others injured.
Msgr Quicke says the Coptic Pope was deeply “touched by that sign of spiritual attention” and closeness to the suffering Christian communities. Speaking to Philippa Hitchen, he says Pope Francis’ encounter with Tawadros will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path towards full and visible unity” of the Churches.
Msgr Quicke recalls that in 2015, following the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, the Coptic bishop in Italy, Msgr Barnaba asked if Pope Francis could send a message of solidarity with the Coptic community. On Palm Sunday, he said, following the latest attacks, the Holy Father asked him to accompany Cardinal Kurt Koch, together with his own private secretary, to Egypt with a message of condolences.
It was a very brief visit, with an overnight stay at the Apostolic nunciature in Cairo, followed by an early morning journey to Alexandria to the residence of Pope Tawadros there.
Spiritual closeness to victims
The Catholic delegation brought a message of condolences and solidarity, expressing Pope Francis “spiritual closeness in prayer, in heart and mind” to all those affected by the attacks. Msgr Quicke says the Coptic leader was “very touched emotionally, by that sign of spiritual attention” and asked “to express his closeness as well” recalling that during their meeting in Rome in 2013 , “they promised one another to pray for one another every day”.
Ecumenism of blood
During that encounter in the Vatican, shortly after both men were elected, Msgr Quicke notes that Pope Francis spoke forcefully about “the ecumenism of blood” of the Coptic martyrs. He repeated the phrase following the beheadings in 2015, stressing that “they are not persecuted because they are Orthodox” or Copts, but “because they are Christian”. Citing the early Christian author from Carthage, Tertullian, he said “as the blood of the [first] martyrs became the seed for the growing of the Christian Church, [so] the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed nowadays for the unity of Christians”.
Strengthen solidarity among Christians
During the brief visit to Cairo, Msgr Quicke says he sensed that “not only the Coptic Orthodox Church, but all Christians, the whole Muslim community and all Egypt is waiting for the visit of the pope ”. Although the encounter between two popes will be an important “continuation of the ecumenical path” towards Christian unity, the papal trip will also be an opportunity for the Holy Father to meet with the small Catholic community “ to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and fraternity between all Christians”.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) The Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. That was the exhortation of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of St Mark the Evangelist. Among those taking part in the Mass were the Cardinal counsellors of the C-9.
The Holy Father spoke about the necessity for Christians of “going out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place.
Jesus gave His disciples a mission: to proclaim the Gospel, “to not remain in Jerusalem, but to go out to proclaim the Good News to all. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.”
Going out to proclaim the Good News, never remaining stopped but always on the journey
Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel”:
“To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe. So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering: we think of the proclamation of the Gospel that leads to so many wounded people – so many wounded people! – who offer their sufferings for the Church, for the Christians. But they always go out of themselves.”
But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked. “Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style”: “The Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.” This, the Pope said, “is the style of God”; there is no other. “The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.” This is “not the proclamation of the Gospel.”
The Gospel must be announced with humility, overcoming the temptation of worldliness
The Gospel, the Pope said, “cannot be announced with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.” “This is not the Gospel.” All of us, then, are called to vest themselves with “humility, one towards another,” because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”:
“And why is this humility necessary? Precisely because we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen. And for this reason St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation.”
Pope Francis said that if a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.”
Let us ask the Lord that we might go out of ourselves in order to evangelize
For this reason, the Pope continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” He said that when we are suffering, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles”:
“The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, a scandal and a folly, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility. May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in Him, announcing the true Gospel: ‘The Word is come in the flesh.’ The Word of God is come in the flesh. And this is a folly, it is a scandal; but doing it with the understanding that the Lord is at our side, He works with us, and He confirms our work.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Franc Rodé, CM, his special envoy at the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the Madonna of Shkodra’s arrival in the Church of Genazzano near Rome, Italy.
The celebration takes place on 26 April at the National Shrine of Shkodra in Albania.
It commemorates the arrival of the Madonna of Shkodra at the Madonna of Good Council Church in Genazzano after the Albanian sanctuary was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1467.
Cardinal Franc Rodé is the Prefect-emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Please find below the Latin text of the Pope’s letter:
Venerabili Fratri Nostro
FRANCISCO S.R.E. Cardinali RODÉ, C.M.
Praefecto olim Congregationis pro Institutis vitae consecratae
et Societatibus vitae apostolicae
Quingentesima et quinquagesima anniversaria memoria appropinquante adventus praeclarae imaginis Dominae Scodrensis in sacram aedem Genatiani, prope Romam, Matri Boni Consilii dicatam, fideles dilectae terrae Albaniae Beatam Mariam Virginem singulari cultu prosequuntur eaque intercedente Salvatori gratias agunt pro omnibus beneficiis saeculorum decursu acceptis. In archidioecesi potissimum Scodrensi-Pulatensi varia incepta suscipiuntur in praeparanda praecipua festivitate die XXVI mensis Aprilis celebranda. Mater Dei enim, cuius memorata icona peculiari splendore eminet, christifideles Albanienses difficilibus temporibus auxiliis est prosecuta apud Filium suum et Dominum nostrum divina dona efflagitans. De hac re sanctus Ioannes Paulus II clare est locutus qui in visitatione apostolica in Albaniam die XXV mensis Aprilis anno MCMXCIII in cathedrali Scodrensi lapidem benedixit novi sanctuarii aedificandi atque totum Albaniensem populum Matri Boni Consilii concredidit.
His rerum adiunctis diligenter consideratis Venerabilis Frater Angelus Massafra, O.F.M., Archiepiscopus Metropolita Scodrensis-Pulatensis atque Conferentiae Episcopalis Albaniensis Praeses, humanissime rogavit ut eminentem virum mitteremus, qui Nostras vices memorato die gereret Nostramque erga istum populum dilectionem manifestaret. Ad Te autem, Venerabilis Frater Noster, qui, Sloveniae clarus filius, olim pergrave munus Praefecti Congregationis pro Institutis vitae consecratae et Societatibus vitae apostolicae diligenter exercuisti, mentem Nostram vertimus atque Te hisce Litteris MISSUM EXTRAORDINARIUM NOSTRUM nominamus ad celebrationem quae die XXVI huius mensis Aprilis apud Sanctuarium Nationale Scodrense agetur.
Sollemni ibidem praesidebis Eucharistiae atque Archiepiscopum Metropolitam aliosque sacros Praesules, sacerdotes, religiosos viros mulieresque, publicas auctoritates atque universos christifideles Nostro salutabis nomine. Optamus etiam ut de pondere Marialis cultus in historia Ecclesiae quae est in Albania loquens, omnes adstantes sermone tuo ad diligentiore usque modo viam per Mariam ad Iesum prosequendam cohortaberis.
Nos autem Te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, in tua missione implenda precibus comitabimur intercessionem ipsius Dominae Scodrensis invocantes atque beatorum martyrum Albaniensium Vincentii Prennushi et XXXVII Sociorum. Denique Benedictionem Nostram Apostolicam libentes Tibi impertimur, signum Nostrae erga Te benevolentiae et caelestium donorum pignus, quam omnibus celebrationis participibus rite transmittes.
Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXII mensis Aprilis, anno MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the funeral rites for Cardinal Attilio Nicora in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday.
Cardinal Nicora, the former president of the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), died on Saturday at the age of 80.
The funeral rites and homily were delivered by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Sodano recalled the long and generous service offered by Cardinal Nicora to the Holy See, saying he “was consecrated to the service of the Church”.
During the Mass at the Altar of the Chair, Pope Francis presided over the rites of Commendatio and Valedictio.
In a telegramme sent on Sunday , the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the Cardinal’s precious service to the Church and to civil society in Italy, especially in the legal field, noting his contribution to the revision of the Lateran Pacts and later his work as President of APSA and AIF.
(from Vatican Radio)…