C9 CARDINALS FOCUS ON MISSIONARY THRUST, SYNODALITY – POPE DEDICATES AUDIENCE TO HOPE, THANKS WELL-WISHERS FOR BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

Pope Francis tweeted today: Now is the time to unleash the creativity of mercy, to bring about new undertakings, the fruit of grace.

Some special news: In a video that lasts only seconds but is quite meaningful, Pope Francis wished Merry Christmas in sign language to all those hard of hearing, asking them to pray for him. The video can be found on the Twitter account of Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, one of the Holy Father’s private secretaries. Msgr. Yoannis is Coptic Catholic and is from Egypt. Previously, in the May 26 general audience, Pope Francis greeted the deaf in sign language. About 60 people from Italy’s national association for the deaf were present that day. (https://twitter.com/AbunaYoannis)

C9 CARDINALS FOCUS ON MISSIONARY THRUST, SYNODALITY

(Vatican Radio) The Council of 9 Cardinals met this week in the Vatican from Monday, December 12 to Wednesday, December 14. Holy See Press Office director, Greg Burke held a briefing on Wednesday to inform journalists of the work done during the sessions.

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Two key issues emerged as guidelines for the reform of the Curial dicasteries: missionary thrust and synodality.

The cardinals have concluded their study of other departments (Doctrine of the Faith, Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Causes of Saints and Promotion of Christian Unity) and delivered their final proposal to the Holy Father.

Considerable time was devoted to the projects of the two new dicasteries.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell spoke of the Congregation for Laity, Family and Life as of which he is Prefect. The discussion focused on the role of the laity, with an invitation to all to re-read the letter of Pope Francis to Card. Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the work plan for the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, which combines four offices: Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Health Care, and Migrants and Itinerant People. Card. Turkson was accompanied by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, who explained the new department as an implementation of the conciliar Constitution Gaudium et Spes.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley presented the most recent activities of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, while Cardinal George Pell reported on the latest developments related to the Secretariat for the Economy.

The afternoon of Wednesday, December 14th, was to be devoted to a presentation by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, detailing the steps taken and those coming for the reform of the Holy See’s communications apparatus, with particular attention to personnel training.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for February 13 – 15, 2017.

POPE DEDICATES AUDIENCE TO HOPE, THANKS WELL-WISHERS FOR BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

Pope Francis Wednesday at the general audience in the Paul VI Hall continued his new catechesis on the virtue of Christian hope, saying the Kingdom brought by Jesus at his birth calls us to be joyful heralds in a world that “yearns for justice, truth, and peace.”

Citing the words of the prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of the one bringing good news,” the Pope said these words help us prepare for the coming feast of Christmas by opening ourselves to the hope of salvation. Isaiah, said Francis, “calls God’s people to rejoice, for the Lord is near, bringing freedom from exile and the promise of renewal and redemption for the faithful “remnant” who continued to hope in his word.

The Holy Father explained that God’s kingdom means that, “God has not abandoned His people and has not let them be overcome by evil, because He is faithful and His grace is greater than sin… And the fulfillment of so much love will be exactly the Kingdom established by Jesus, that Kingdom of pardon and peace, which we celebrate at Christmas and which is manifested conclusively in Easter.”

“These,” he said, “are the reasons for our hope. When all seems over, when in the face of so many negative realities faith grows weary and the temptation to say that all has lost meaning comes, rather, [look to] the good news brought by those quick feet: God is coming to make something new, to establish a kingdom of peace. God has ‘extended His arm’ and brings liberty and consolation.”

“This,” he concluded, “is the surprise of a child God, of a poor God, of a weak God, of a God who abandons His greatness in order to draw near to each of us.”

At the end of the weekly audience, in off the cuff remarks during his greetings to Italian pilgrims, Pope Francis thanked those who had sent greetings and best wishes to him for his upcoming 80th birthday on Saturday.

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He also joked that that, in his native Argentina, it is thought that, “Those, who offer birthday congratulations ahead of time, are jinxes!”

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