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Day: June 2, 2017

Pope answers childrens’ questions about suffering and growing up

(Vatican Radio) Why does God let children suffer? How can kids change the world? And how can they overcome their fear of growing up?
Those were the soul-searching questions that three children asked Pope Francis on Friday during a meeting with members of an organisation for middle school students called ‘I Cavalieri’ or The Knights.
The colourful encounter included young knights from all over Italy, along with groups from Spain, Portugal, France and Switzerland, plus others linked up online from Latin America.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: 

After lots of lively singing and cheering, a young girl named Marta asked a first question about how to overcome her fear of moving to high school and saying goodbye to all her current friends.
The Pope told her that life is a continual round of big and small ‘hellos and goodbyes’. We grow up, he said, by making new friends and letting go of old ones. Don’t be frightened, he said, but try to see it as a challenge. Don’t worry about what’s behind the wall, but imagine instead a horizon you can see in the countryside and try to always move forward towards your new horizons .
A second child, Giulio, asked the Pope how young people can help change the world for the better .
Getting the kids to shout out answers, Pope Francis asked what happens if they have two sweets and a friend comes to call? And if they only have one sweet? Do you put it in your pocket and eat it later? Or do you share what you have with others? Show me your hands, he instructed the kids: are they closed and selfish, or open and generous? Our hands are a symbol for our hearts, he said, and only open, generous hearts can change the world .
If you have a friend at school that you don’t like, the Pope went on, don’t go and gossip about that person with others, because that shows you have a closed heart. If someone insults you, don’t insult them back, but try and change the world with small, every day, acts of generosity and solidarity . Jesus taught us to pray for our friends and our enemies, for those who make us suffer, he said, just as Our Father in heaven makes the sun shine upon good and bad people.
Finally a young Bulgarian boy, Tanio, told the Pope how he’d been abandoned in an orphanage and adopted by Italian parents at five years old. His new mum died a year later, leaving his dad and grandparents to look after him. Now his grandparents have died too, so he asked the Pope: How can we believe that God loves us when we lose people in this way?
Pope Francis confessed that he too asks the same question when he visits sick children in hospital. How can we believe in God’s love when we see kids suffer from hunger in some parts of the world, while so much food is wasted in other places? There are simply no words to answer these questions , he told his young audience. The only explanation you may find is in the love of those who support and care for you.
God doesn’t answer my questions either, he admitted, but when I look at the Cross and remember that God let his own Son suffer, I know that there must be a sense to it somewhere. I can’t explain it to you, he said, but you may find it on your own. Remember, he concluded, there are questions and situations in life which cannot be explained, yet the love of God is always there , and people around you can help you feel his presence in your life. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for June: Eliminate arms trade

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has released his video message accompanying his monthly prayer intention for June.
This month’s intention is for the elimination of the arms trade.

The text of the video message reads:
“It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.
Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich?
Let us put an end to this situation. Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people.”
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer  developed the “Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.
(from Vatican Radio)…

All set for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration

Last minutes preparations are in full swing for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration due Saturday, 3 June at Namugongo Catholic Shrine.
The Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Dr Kiiza Aliba, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, said that preparations are at the final stage with 95 percent of the work complete.
“We only need some additional touches on technical aspects which will be finalised today, 2 June. So far we have already received thousands of pilgrims from within and outside the country, and more are still registering. We expect the Shrine to be flooded with millions of pilgrims by Saturday morning,” Aliba said.
The Uganda Martyrs Day celebration usually attracts millions of enthusiastic pilgrims from across the world. The majority of these pilgrims often come to the shrine on foot as a demonstration of their faith. Others, use various means of transport to reach Namugongo shrine.
Last year, Tanzania had the largest contingent of registered pilgrims (4,961) from the East African Community member countries besides hosts Uganda. Kenya had at least 4,000 registered pilgrims while 800 came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 300 from Rwanda, 712 from Burundi, and 105 from South Sudan. Other international Pilgrims also came from the United States of America (7), Nigeria (117), Mexico (4), Malawi (100), Italy, Zambia, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.
The annual celebration commemorates the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, then King of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Twenty-two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on 6 June 1920, by Pope Benedict XV and on 18 October 1964, Pope Paul VI canonised them Saints.
In addition to the Catholic Martyrs, there are two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okello and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918 and were beatified by John Paul II on October 20, 2002.
Meanwhile, the Catholic faithful across Uganda will on Friday conclude a novena to the Uganda Martyrs. The nine-days of prayer started on Thursday, 25 May.
Hundreds of pilgrims have also participated in the second ‘Walk of Faith pilgrimage’ which took place on Saturday 27 May. The ‘Walk of Faith’ pilgrimage was introduced in 2016 as part of the Uganda Martyrs celebrations. The walk started from Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine to St. Matia Mulumba Parish in Old Kampala, where St. Matia Mulumba (one of the Catholic martyrs) was killed.
Uganda’s Diocese of Hoima will animate the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration under the theme, “Stand Firm in Faith That We Have Been Taught” (Colossians 2:7). A total budget of US$ 166,064 (Ugandan Shillings 597million) has been allocated for the preparation of this year’s event.
(Jacinta W. Odongo/ Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference)
Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis holds audience with president of Latvia

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday met with Raimonds Vējonis, President of the Republic of Latvia, and his wife, Iveta Vejone, in a private audience in the Vatican.
A communique from the Holy See Press Office said, “During the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the cordial bilateral relations and the positive contribution of the Catholic Church to Latvian society. Attention then turned to themes of common interest, such as the acceptance of migrants and the prospects for the future of the European project, focusing on the regional context.”
Mr. Vējonis then met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope at Mass: ‘Shepherd the people of God with humility’

(Vatican Radio)  Jesus entrusted his sheep to Peter, the most sinful of the remaining eleven apostles, and invited him to shepherd the People of God with humility and love, despite his mistakes and sins. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Santa Marta.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Pope Francis commented on the Gospel of the day (Jn 21:15-19), in which the Risen Jesus converses with Peter on the lake shore where he had first been called. The Pope said it was a calm, serene dialogue between friends and took place in the atmosphere of the Resurrection. In that event, Jesus entrusts his sheep to Peter, asking him three times if he loved him.
“Jesus,” the Pope said, “chose the most sinful from among the apostles. The others escaped but Peter denied him: ‘I don’t know him.’ And Jesus asked him, ‘Do you love me more than these?’ Jesus chose the worst sinner.”
Shepherd the People of God with humility, despite mistakes
The Holy Father said Jesus’ choice to choose the most sinful of the remaining eleven apostles to shepherd the People of God with love “makes us think”.
“Do not shepherd with your head held high,” he said, “like a conqueror. No, shepherd with humility, with love, as Jesus did. This is the mission which Jesus gives to Peter. Yes, with sins and mistakes. In affirmation of this, right after this dialogue Peter slips up, makes a mistake, and is tempted by curiosity to say to the Lord, ‘But this other disciple, where will he go, what will he do?’ But with love, in the midst of his mistakes and sins… with love: ‘Because these sheep are not your sheep but mine,’ says the Lord. ‘Love. If you are my friend, you must be a friend to these.’”
Peter chooses to be crucified with his head down
Pope Francis then recalled how Peter denied Jesus before the High Priest’s servant and how Jesus looked at him in that moment, he who had just denied his Lord. But, he said, the apostle who is “courageous in denying is capable also of bitter tears”.
“After an entire life spent in service of the Lord,” the Pope said, “his life ended like his Lord’s: on the cross. But he does not boast: ‘I end as did my Lord!’ Rather he asks, ‘Please, put me on the cross with my head down, so that at the very least it is seen that I am not the Lord but a servant.’ This is what we can learn from this beautiful, serene, friendly, and modest dialogue: We hold our heads high for the dignity that God gives us, but we lower our head, knowing that we are sinners and that the only Lord is Jesus; we are servants.”
(from Vatican Radio)…