I posted some stories and lot of travel and other info about the Holy Year in Rome on my Facebook page over the weekend, so you might want to pay a visit: http://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, quoting the lyrics to Davis Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” sent out this tweet to commemorate the singer who died yesterday at the age of 69 after 18 months of fighting cancer: “Ground Control to Major Tom Commencing countdown, engines on Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (David Bowie).”
POPE FRANCIS BAPTIZES 26 BABIES IN SISTINE CHAPEL
Pope Francis on Sunday, during Mass in the Sistine Chapel, baptized 26 babies – 13 boys and 13 girls. This is always a special annual event as parents, god-parents and other family members wait with bated breath for this most important moment in the life of their child – and also wait to see if theirs will be the first baby to cry during the ceremony! In fact, as several babies were heard crying, Pope Francis told the mothers should feel free to feed their children whenever they are hungry. (photo: news.va)
The Holy Father had celebrated Mass in the chapel for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. He told parents to nurture the faith, saying, “Don’t forget that the greatest inheritance you can give to your children is the faith. Try to see that it is not lost, nurture it and leave it as an inheritance.” In his homily, which was brief and off-the-cuff, Francis told parents that in bringing their children to the chapel to receive baptism, they are imitating the act of Mary and Joseph, who, 40 days after Jesus’ birth, brought him to the temple to present him to God.
Pope Francis noted that eventually the infants baptized will grow up to be parents themselves, and will ask the same thing for their own children. Future parents, he said, will ask for “the faith, the faith that is given in baptism, the faith that today brings the Holy Spirit into the hearts, souls and lives of these, your children.”
Later, at the noon Angelus, the Pope highlighted the baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel and asked the faithful in St. Peter’s Square: “Do you know the date of your baptism? If not, I will give you a homework assignment: Go home and find the date of your baptism – talk to your parents, god-parents or other relatives, perhaps even the parish.”
The Holy Father has previously asked the same question on a number of occasions, mostly at a Sunday Angelus.
Francis had a special blessing for all children recently baptized, and included adults and young people who are preparing or have recently received the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.
POPE ADDRESSES DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF YEAR PAST
In a lengthy speech lasting over 30 minutes, Pope Francis today gave his annual address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Currently, 180 States, the European Union, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Permanent Mission of the State of Palestine are accredited to the Holy See. After being greeted in the Sala Regia by the new dean of the diplomatic corps, Armindo Fernandes do Espirito Santo Vieira, ambassador of Angola, Francis addressed the assembled diplomats. (photo: news.va)
He looked at the year just past and highlighted its lights and shadows in a broad international overview. Though the greater part of his talk focused on the migration issue, he also addressed the arms trade, inter-religious dialogue, the need to overcome indifference, the “throwaway” culture so prevalent today, achieving “peace through religious experiences authentically lived,” terrorism and a theme very dear to him, especially in this Jubilee Year – mercy.
The Pope highlighted certain agreements concluded within the last year by the Holy See. He spoke of his trips, country by country. He spoke of the importance of the Jubilee of mercy and the quality of mercy.
He urged the ambassadors to reflect on “the poor, the marginalized and the ‘least’ of society,” noting the “grave crisis of migration we are facing, in order to discern its causes, to consider possible solutions, and to overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon, which in 2015 has mainly concerned Europe, but also various regions of Asia and North and Central America.”
“Many of the causes of migration could have been addressed some time ago. … Much could be done to end these tragedies and to build peace” but we must have the courage to question “entrenched habits and practices,” including “the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development.” There must be “mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses” aime at providing “effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries” as well as promoting “the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity.”
Francis asked the diplomats to attempt to “discern the causes and map out solutions” to the migratory emergency.
He said, “Europe must continue to take in migrants despite the massive landings and fears of terrorism” that “seem to shake” Europe’s welcome system: Europe must overcome “fears for security” and “not lose the foundations of its humanistic spirit.” He specifically thanked Italy as having “saved so many lives in the Mediterranean.”
The Holy Father also appealed for an end to “people trafficking, which turns human beings into a commodity, especially the weakest and most defenseless. … The images of children dead at sea are indelibly impressed in our minds and hearts.”
Francis noted that “we all look with hope to the important steps taken by the international community to reach a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, to put an end to the suffering, which has lasted too long, of the population.”
On terrorism, he said only “common action” can defeat terrorism and extremism. “Only a distorted ideological form of religion can think that justice is done in the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenseless persons, as in the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.”
On another topic, he spoke to the national anti-usury board and called on the Holy Spirit to help “fight with all [our] force to defeat the widespread social plagues of usury and gambling.” This board is a consultative body that aims to coordinate efforts to fight usury and loan-sharking in all their forms.
The entire 4,010-word address may be found here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-speech-to-diplomatic-corps