POPE FRANCIS IN CHILE – A WEDDING ON THE PENULTIMATE DAY

POPE FRANCIS IN CHILE – A WEDDING ON THE PENULTIMATE DAY

150,000 ATTEND PAPAL MASS IN TEMUCO, CHILE

Pope Francis traveled to the heart of Chile’s centuries-old conflict with indigenous peoples Wednesday, celebrating Mass at a former military base that not only lies on contested Mapuche land but also was a former detention center used during Chile’s brutal dictatorship. Leading around 150,000 people in a moment of silent prayer, Francis said the fertile green fields and snow-capped mountains of Araucania were both blessed by God and cursed by man, the site of “grave human rights violations” during the 1973-1990 dictatorship. “We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices,” he said.

Francis also referred to recent violence that has flared in southern Araucania as radical Mapuche factions press for the return of their lands He said violence isn’t the answer to their grievances. “You cannot assert yourselves by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division,” he admonished in his homily. “Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation. Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.”

FRANCIS MEETS WITH YOUTH – Wednesday, at the National Shrine of Maipu dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel in Santiago, the Pope urged young Chileans to be “protagonists of change” in the nation and in the Church by staying “connected” to Christ and doing what He would do in their place. Using the analogy of a mobile phone, the Pope explained the importance of always ‎staying “connected” to Christ and charging the batteries of their hearts. ‎He improvised amply in his native Spanish, underscoring the importance and experience of young people, saying he wants them to help the Church “to be more faithful to the Gospel,” and “draw closer to Jesus.” Speaking of a mobile phone with battery running down and losing internet connection, his message was how to stay connected to Christ when faith begins to waver. “Without a connection, a connection to Jesus,” the Pope said, “we end up drowning our thoughts and ideas, our dreams and our faith, and so we get frustrated and annoyed,” and our hearts begin to falter. But the Pope cautioned, “Never think that you have nothing to offer or that nobody cares about you.” Citing Chilean St. Albert Hurtado, he said it is the devil who makes us feel worthless.

Concluding his second full day in Chile on Wednesday, Pope Francis addressed over 1,000 staff and prominent Chilean intellectuals and academics at the PONTIFICAL CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF CHILE IN SANTIAGO,urging them to take up the challenge of generating a new culture of dialogue and social cohesion. He also urged them to sensitize the nation as to the importance of showing special care and respect for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. Francis underscored the responsibility of educators in creating the conditions for peaceful coexistence in the country. At the conclusion of a day spent mostly in the southern Araucania region, the contested homeland of the indigenous Mapuche peoples where centuries-old conflicts have resulted in grave human rights violations and abuse, Pope Francis said indigenous peoples are “not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed”. The accelerated pace and sense of disorientation before new processes and changes in societies call for new educational processes that are transformative, inclusive and that favour encounter and coexistence.

THURSDAY – PAPAL MASS IN IQUIQUE, northern Chile:
Full text HERE: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/chile-journey-mass-at-iquique-pope-francis0.html

HOLY FATHER MARRIES COUPLE ON PAPAL FLIGHT

Vatican News: Pope Francis performs the first-ever papal marriage ceremony aboard a plane, during his trip to Iquique on Thursday, the final day of his Apostolic Visit to Chile. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, says the wedding Pope Francis performed aboard the papal plane bound for Iquique on Thursday was “totally legit” and “doctrinally OK”. The newly-weds – Paula Podest Ruiz and Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga – are flight attendants for LATAM and met 8 years ago aboard a plane.  (CNA photo)

They were married civilly in 2010. However, they were unable to follow up with a Sacramental marriage because their church was destroyed before the ceremony by an earthquake, which hit Chile that year. Greg Burke said, “Doctrinally it’s OK, because to be married the actual ministers are the people themselves. You just need a witness. There are a couple other things, normally there are publications. And there were things that had to passed over, but it’s totally legit, and everyone’s happy!” He said it “was not the Pope’s idea; it was their idea, but the Pope was happy to do it.”

The official marriage certificate reads: “On 18 January 2018, aboard the papal plane from Santiago to Iquique, Mr. Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Ms. Paula Podest Ruiz contracted marriage, in the presence of the witness, Ignacio Cueto. The Holy Father Pope Francis received their consent.

POPE MEETS VICTIMS OF CLERICAL SEX ABUSE – POPE WARNS CHILEAN BISHOPS AGAINST TEMPTATION OF CLERICALISM – POPE TO PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS: A CHURCH FORGIVEN OF HER SINS GOES OUT TO SERVE WOUNDED HUMANITY – HOLY FATHER TELLS INMATES NOT TO LOSE HOPE OR DIGNITY – 150,000 ATTEND PAPAL MASS IN TEMUCO, CHILE

As you know, EWTN is featuring the papal visit on TV and in its news reports so hopefully you have been able to spend some time with the Pope in Chile. Following are more news reports from the Vatican News and reporters on the ground with the Holy Father.

If you’ll allow me, I have very special prayer request to make. My six-month old niece Maren (the 23rd of my 23 great-nieces and –nephews) is having surgery tomorrow morning in Chicago to repair a hole in her heart. Doctors are optimistic and that is good but even better is prayer! Heartfelt thanks!

POPE MEETS VICTIMS OF CLERICAL SEX ABUSE

Announcement from Holy See Press Office Tuesday evening: Today at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago, Pope Francis met alone and privately with several victims of sexual abuse by clergy. The Pope prayed and cried with them after hearing their experiences.

POPE WARNS CHILEAN BISHOPS AGAINST TEMPTATION OF CLERICALISM

(Vatican News – Linda Bordoni) – Pope Francis has urged bishops in Chile to be on guard against the temptation of Clericalism. Meeting his brother bishops in the Sacristy of Santiago Cathedral, the Pope recalled the ad limina visit in the Vatican about a year ago and said he wished to reiterate some of the points made during that meeting in Rome.

“I can sum them up in the following phrase: the consciousness of being a people” he said. Warned against the sense of not belonging He said “one of the problems facing our societies today is the sense of being orphaned, the feeling of not belonging to anyone”.

It’s a “postmodern” feeling, he continued, that can seep into us and into our clergy and make us think that we belong to no one: “we forget that we are part of God’s holy and faithful people and that the Church is not, nor will it ever be, an élite of consecrated men and women, priests and bishops”.

Priests are servants, not masters

Without this consciousness of belonging to God’s people as servants, not masters, the Pope said, “can lead us to one of the temptations that is most damaging to the missionary outreach that we are called to promote: clericalism, which ends up as a caricature of the vocation we have received”. He said that a failure to realize that the mission belongs to the entire Church, and not to the individual priest or bishop, limits the horizon, and even worse, stifles all the initiatives that the Spirit may be awakening in our midst. Clericalism extinguishes the prophetic flame to which we are called to bear witness

Francis reminded the bishops that, “laypersons are not our peons, or our employees” and said that “Clericalism, far from giving impetus to various contributions and proposals, gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame to which the entire Church is called to bear witness”. He strongly invited those present to be on guard against this temptation, especially in seminaries and throughout the process of formation.

The gift of dreaming

He implored the Holy Spirit for “the gift of dreaming and working for a missionary and prophetic option capable of transforming everything, so that our customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and ecclesial structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of Chile rather than for ecclesiastical self-preservation”

“Let us not be afraid,” Pope Francis concluded, “to strip ourselves of everything that separates us from the missionary mandate”.

POPE TO PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS: A CHURCH FORGIVEN OF HER SINS GOES OUT TO SERVE WOUNDED HUMANITY

Click here for a slide show from CNS story in Boston Pilot on papal encounter with priests, Religious in Santiago: https://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?utm_source=ConstantContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Dailynewsletter&ID=181278

(Vatican News – Robin Gomes)

Reflecting on the transformation of St. Peter the Apostle, Pope Francis urged Chilean priests, religious and seminarians to be a prophetic Church, which washed of her sins is not afraid to go out and serve a wounded humanity. Speaking to them in the Cathedral of Santiago, Tuesday evening, the Pope dwelt on John’s Gospel where Peter, disillusioned after the Resurrection, goes back to fishing but catches nothing. However, at the Lord’s behest, he casts the net on the right side and comes up with a miraculous haul of fish.

Transformation of Peter

Pope Francis reminded the priests and religious about the personal and communitarian dimensions of their vocation. He thus reflected on Peter and the community ‎disheartened,  Peter and the community shown mercy, and Peter and the community transfigured. Speaking about the “hours of dismay and confusion” in the life of Peter in the aftermath of the ‎Resurrection, the Pope acknowledged that in times “when the tempest of persecutions, tribulations, doubts, and so forth, is raised by ‎cultural and historical events, it is not easy to find the path to follow.” ‎But, he said, the “worst temptation of all is to keep dwelling on our own unhappiness”

Pain of abuse of minors

Alongside the “fidelity of the immense majority” of priests and religious, the Pope admitted there are also “weeds of evil and their aftermath of scandal and desertion”. Pope Francis particularly spoke about the “pain resulting from cases of abuse of minors” in the Church of Chile, which he said cause harm and sufferings to the victims and their families, to ecclesial communities and also to priests and religious themselves. He thus urged them to ask God for the grace of “clear-sightedness to call reality by its name, the strength to seek forgiveness and the ability to listen to what He tells us.”

Journey of conversion

Amidst changes taking place in Chilean society, Pope Francis urged the priests and religious to fight the temptation of being closed and isolated and defending their ways, forgetting that the “Gospel is a journey of conversion.”

Pointing out that Peter experienced his limitation, his frailty and his sinfulness, Pope Francis said that as disciples and Church “we have to face not our success but our weakness”. Jesus wants to save Peter from self-centredness and isolation, from bring downcast and negative.

Wounded Church heals world’s wounds

The one thing that sustains his apostles, the Pope said, is that they have received mercy. Priests and religious, he said are not superheroes or better than others, but “are sent as men and women conscious of having been forgiven.” Just as Jesus did not hide his wounds, so too we are “not asked to ignore or hide our wounds,” the Pope said, adding, “a Church with wounds can understand the wounds of today’s world and make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them.” “A wounded Church does not make herself the centre of things,… but puts at the centre the one who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ.”

The acknowledgement that we are wounded, the Pope said, frees us from becoming self-referential and thinking ourselves superior.” Our wounds that are risen in Jesus, inspire solidarity; they help us to tear down the walls that enclose us in elitism and they impel us to build bridges and to encounter all those yearning for that merciful love which Christ alone can give.

Kingdom of heaven

The problem the Pope said, is not feeding the poor, clothing the naked and visiting the sick, but rather recognizing that the poor, the naked, the sick, prisoners and the homeless have the dignity to sit at our table, to feel “at home” among us, to feel part of a family. “This is the sign that the kingdom of heaven is in our midst. This is the sign of a Church wounded by sin, shown mercy by the Lord, and made prophetic by his call,” the Pope added.

HOLY FATHER TELLS INMATES NOT TO LOSE HOPE OR DIGNITY

(Vatican News – Linda Bordoni) – Pope Francis greeted the inmates of Santiago’s San Joaquin Women’s Penitentiary Center and encouraged them to resist everything that might rob them of their identity and end up by killing their hope. He also appealed to authorities to promote projects that render jail sentences opportunities for personal growth.

It was one of those meetings that are clearly at the top of Pope Francis’ agenda. Taking his time to hold hands and kiss babies as he made his way to the podium set up in a simple space decked with coloured ribbons and hundreds of paper origami doves, each one bearing the name of a prison inmate, the Pope set a gentle and joyful mood with simple gestures, eye contact and a smile.

Never lose hope or dignity

He told the some 650 inmates, many of them with babies and small children, never to lose their hope or their dignity just because they’ve lost their freedom.

Everyone is a sinner

Quoting from the Gospel of John in which Jesus says: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone” Pope Francis told the women that everyone is a sinner, and that change is always possible.

Prison sentences must offer opportunity for growth

Setting aside his prepared speech, to the applause of the women he said: “No one can take away your dignity” and called for prison sentences to not just serve as punishment, but to be a chance for inmates to learn new trades so they can re-enter society when they have completed their sentences.

And turning to Janeth, the woman who addressed him on behalf of “the almost 50,000 men and women deprived of their liberty in Chile,” the Pope said: “thank you for your courageous request for forgiveness, for reminding us that without this attitude we lose our humanity. We forget that we did wrong and that every day is an invitation to start over”.

An appeal to women to bring forth the future

Pope Francis, the friend of the poor and of the discarded frequently visits detention centers during his apostolic journeys. Tuesday’s visit to San Joaquin in Santiago was his first-ever visit to a women’s facility, and to his all-female audience he said: “As women, you have an incredible ability to adapt to new circumstances and move forward. Today I appeal to that ability to bring forth the future that is alive in each one of you. That ability enables you to resist everything that might rob you of your identity and end up by killing your hope. A hope, Janeth said in her speech, that hangs on the fact that “We know that God forgives us, but we ask that society does so as well”.

150,000 ATTEND PAPAL MASS IN TEMUCO, CHILE

TEMUCO, Chile (AP) — Pope Francis traveled to the heart of Chile’s centuries-old conflict with indigenous peoples Wednesday, celebrating Mass at a former military base that not only lies on contested Mapuche land but also was a former detention center used during Chile’s brutal dictatorship.

Leading around 150,000 people in a moment of silent prayer, Francis said the fertile green fields and snow-capped mountains of Araucania were both blessed by God and cursed by man, the site of “grave human rights violations” during the 1973-1990 dictatorship.

“We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices,” he said.

Francis also referred to the more recent violence that has flared in southern Araucania as radical Mapuche factions press for the return of their lands, including a recent spate of church burnings that preceded his visit. No one has claimed responsibility for the 10 firebombs that have damaged, or in some cases burned churches to the ground in recent days.

The Argentine Jesuit pope took those factions to task, saying violence wasn’t the answer to their grievances.

“You cannot assert yourselves by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division,” he admonished in his homily. “Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation. Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.” https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/pope-goes-to-restive-area-in-chile-where-churches-are-burned/

THE PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

THE PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Following are several reports on Pope Francis’ fourth trip to Latin America, his 22nd foreign apostolic trip, that started yesterday evening when he landed in Chile. This is the first leg of his January 15 to 21 apostolic voyage that concludes with several days in Peru. Stories are from vaticannews.va, from reporters accompanying the Holy Father from Rome and are on papal flights or reporters on the ground in Chile.

Later in the day, local time, the Pope will visit a women’s prison and will meet with bishops at Santiago’s cathedral.

POPE FRANCIS ON PAPAL PLANE: CONCERN ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS

LA STAMPA – “The fruit of war…”. To the journalists who accompany him on his flight from Fiumicino to Santiago de Chile, the first stop of his apostolic journey to Chile and Peru, the Pope wanted to distribute the photo of the child who, after the atomic bombardment of Nagasaki, in 1945, is carrying his dead brother on his shoulders to a crematorium. A brutal image taken by American photographer Joseph Roger O’ Donnell, that the Pope already wanted to be printed and distributed at end of this year. His bitter caption were the words, “The fruit of war”. Followed by another caption in Spanish that emphasized the despair of the child “in his gesture of biting the lips that ooze blood”. Finally, his signature: “Franciscus”. http://www.lastampa.it/2018/01/15/vaticaninsider/eng/news/on-the-flight-to-chile-the-pope-distributes-to-journalists-the-picture-of-the-child-from-nagasaki-j7Aitjo30yCJnWwLWnB4AO/pagina.html

POPE USES FLIGHT TO CHILE TO URGE END TO NUCLEAR WAR

(CRUX) ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — As he did during the Christmas season, Francis circulated an image of a young boy carrying his dead brother on his back, taken after the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, on the plane full of journalists accompanying him on his Jan. 15-21 trip to Chile and Peru. Through his spokesman, Francis handed each of the journalists a copy of the 1945 picture by American journalist Joseph Roger O’Donnell, portraying a boy who’s waiting for his turn at the crematory to hand in his younger brother’s body. The pope told reporters that he found it by chance, and was moved upon seeing it. On the other side, it has the phrase “…the fruit of war,” and his signature. https://cruxnow.com/pope-in-chile-and-peru/2018/01/15/pope-uses-flight-chile-urge-end-nuclear-war/

POPE BEGINS HIS 6-DAY APOSTOLIC VISIT TO CHILE AND PERU

VaticanNews.va – Pope Francis has arrived in Chile, beginning a week-long Apostolic journey that will take him to 6 cities in as many days in Chile and Peru. This his 6th apostolic visit to Latin America. The Pope was met at Santiago International airport by Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, and the President of the country’s Bishops’ Conference. There were no official discourses as the Pope went immediately to the Apostolic Nunciature to rest. The official programme of the visit begins today with his meeting with civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps. http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/chile-journey-arrival.html

POPE FRANCIS ARRIVES IN CHILE FOR WEEKLONG TRIP FOCUSED ON THE POOR, THE RAINFOREST AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

LATIMES – Pope Francis arrived here in the Chilean capital Monday evening to start a weeklong swing through Chile and Peru in which he is expected to highlight the plight of indigenous peoples, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the precarious status of immigrants and the poor. In an eleventh-hour schedule shift, Francis stopped in Santiago at the tomb of a Chilean prelate who was known as the “bishop of the poor” and who aided those seeking loved ones detained during Chile’s former military dictatorship. arrived here in the Chilean capital Monday evening to start a weeklong swing through Chile and Peru in which he is expected to highlight the plight of indigenous peoples, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the precarious status of immigrants and the poor. In an eleventh-hour schedule shift, Francis stopped in Santiago at the tomb of a Chilean prelate who was known as the “bishop of the poor” and who aided those seeking loved ones detained during Chile’s former military dictatorship. http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-chile-pope-20180115-story.html

POPE OPENS CHILE TRIP WITH APOLOGY FOR CLERICAL SEX ABUSE

CRUX – SANTIAGO, Chile-Pope Francis apologized for the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by priests during his first public remarks on Tuesday in Chile, where the credibility of the Catholic Church has been badly marred by scandals involving clergy. “I feel bound to express my pain and shame, shame I feel for the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” Francis said. “I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and to make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again.” The pope’s words came during the first speech of his Jan. 15-18 trip to Chile, as he was addressing public authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the country’s government house, La Moneda Palace, on Tuesday. https://cruxnow.com/pope-in-chile-and-peru/2018/01/16/pope-opens-chile-trip-apology-clerical-sexual-abuse/

POPE, IN CHILE, EXPRESSES ‘PAIN AND SHAME’ OVER CHURCH SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Pope Francis expressed “pain and shame” on Tuesday over a sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Chile, seeking forgiveness for a crisis that has scarred its credibility and left many faithful skeptical of reform. Francis spoke as the number of Catholic churches that have been attacked in the country in the past week rose to eight, both in the capital and in southern regions that are home to indigenous people. Police in riot gear dispersed some 200 demonstrators trying to make their way to a park where the pope said Mass for some 400,000 people after making his remarks about abuse. “Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” he said in the presidential palace, drawing sustained applause, including from President Michelle Bachelet and diplomats. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-chile-shame/pope-in-chile-expresses-pain-and-shame-over-church-sex-abuse-scandal-idUSKBN1F51BZ?il=0

POPE TO CHILEAN AUTHORITIES: DEMOCRACY AND THE ABILITY TO LISTEN

VaticanNews.va – Pope Francis apologizes to victims of clerical abuse in his address to members of the government, the diplomatic corps, and the civil authorities in Chile. He also told them they are a nation that has grown and thrived, but reminded them that it’s also important not to forget those who suffer situations of injustice. But he noted that “each new generation must take up the struggles and attainments of past generations, while setting its own sights even higher.” “Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, said the Pope are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day.” The Holy Father added that there was no room for complacency when many people still endure situations of injustice. http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/chile-journey-meeting-with-authorities.html

FRANCIS: BEATITUDES BORN FROM COMPASSIONATE HEART OF JESUS

VaticanNews.va – Pope Francis delivered the first homily during his Apostolic Visit to Chile at Mass celebrated in Santiago’s O’Higgins Park. The Gospel for the votive Mass for Peace and Justice introduces Christ’s Sermon on the Mount with the words, “When Jesus saw the crowds…” The Holy Father took these words as the starting point for his own homily. God’s profound love, he said, is awakened not by “ideas or concepts, but by faces, persons.” It is this encounter with the people, the Pope said, that led to the proclamation of the Beatitudes “that horizon towards which we are called and challenged to set out.” He said the Beatitudes are not “the fruit of passivity in the face of reality, nor of a mere onlooker gathering grim statistics” but are rather “born of the compassionate heart of Jesus, which encounters the hearts of men and women seeking and yearning for a life of happiness.” http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/chile-journey-mass-o-higgins-park.html

POPE TO VISIT WOMEN’S PRISON IN SANTIAGO, CHILE

VaticanNews – Later today, Tuesday, the first full day of his pastoral visit to Chile, Pope Francis will meet with women and young children in the overcrowded ‘San Joaquin’ Penitentiary Center. Pope Francis on Tuesday visits a women’s prison in Santiago, during the first leg of his pastoral journey to Chile and Peru. He’ll meet with around five hundred prisoners, together with the chaplains and a religious sister in charge of pastoral care for the inmates. The ‘San Joaquin’ Penitentiary Center was built over a hundred and fifty years ago to accommodate around 850 prisoners. Today it houses over 1.400 women charged with a variety of offenses, from theft or drug trafficking to murder and other more serious crimes. http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/chile-journey-women-s-prison-martinez-interview.html

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF FRANCIS: MASS FOR MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES, A PRAYER BEFORE A MARIAN ICON AND A FLIGHT TO CHILE

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF FRANCIS: MASS FOR MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES, A PRAYER BEFORE A MARIAN ICON AND A FLIGHT TO CHILE

Pope Francis celebrated Mass yesterday in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, urging the faithful to “overcome fear and to welcome the other’.” The papal liturgy seemed even more international than usual given the music from the young, multilingual voices of the Latin American choirs, the colorful flags and multicultural costumes of the 49 countries represented at the papal Mass, and the presence of ambassadors from 70 countries. In addition, some 460 priests from all over the world concelebrated with the Holy Father. Francis said he wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass of invitation and welcome.

Later, at the Angelus, the Holy Father again spoke of this World Day and quoted from his Message: “Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age.” He also announced that, “for pastoral reasons,” this World Day will henceforth be commemorated on the second Sunday in September.

Francis asked the faithful in St. Peter’s Square to pray for his trip to Chile and Peru and, later Sunday, visited St Mary Major basilica to pray before the beloved icon of Mary, entrusting his trip to her maternal heart.

In fact, Pope Francis departed Rome at 8:55 this morning, Monday, for the 16-hour flight to Santiago, schedule to arrive about 8 pm local time. Rome is 4 hours ahead of Chile.

This may well be one of the Pope’s most difficult trips. There have been attacks on Churches in Chile, including some fire bombs, and in Peru, the country’s replica of the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro was set on fire days ago. In one case, the perpetrators of a church firebombed in Santiago, left a note that read: “Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe.”

Needless to say, security will be uppermost in the minds of Vatican officials, gendarmes and Swiss Guards as well as the police and security officials of both Chile and Peru.

(Vatican News – Devin Watkins) Churches attacked in Chile ahead of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit – Four churches are vandalized on Friday in Chile’s capital, just ahead of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to the country, and the Apostolic Nunciature is briefly occupied to protest against money spent on welcoming the Holy Father.(http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-01/chile-journey-churches-attacked-before-popes-arrival.html)

There is also anger over sexual abuse cases and the fact that Pope Francis, against advice, appointed a bishop who has been accused of turning a blind eye to abuse cases. Some fear these cases might overshadow the Pope’s desire to focus on the light of indigenous peoples.

In fact, the Holy Father intends to place the situation of indigenous peoples on the front pages of the world’s newspaper and he will focus on them in both Chile and Peru. A sample case of the problems faced by the indigenous is that of large pieces of land that were originally theirs but had been taken forcefully over the centuries, without any compensation. Others own land that criminal gangs are trying to take over – or have succeeded – in an attempt to grow lucrative palm oil or drug-related products.

In a story reported from Peru by the Guardian, for example, tribal leaders, who hail from four Amazon river basins, accuse the government of refusing to carry out a consultation process even though it is negotiating a new 30-year contract for oil block 192 with Frontera Energy, a Canadian firm, whose current contract expires in early 2019.

The so-called prior consultation law, passed in 2011 in Peru, requires the government to seek free, prior and informed consent from indigenous people before approving any development plans that might affect them.

But officials from Peru’s energy ministry refused to confirm if a new consultation process would be undertaken, stating that a 2015 process was still valid. Indigenous leaders representing more than 100 communities in the Marañon, Pastaza, Corrientes and Tigre river basins said that process had been carried out in “bad faith”.

Some say such stories are just the tip of the iceberg vis-à-vis indigenous peoples.

This is Francis’ 4th trip to Latin America but his fellow Argentinians are perplexed – and some angry – that he has not set foot in his homeland since his election in March 2013.

The itinerary for Pope Francis’ six days in Chile and Peru includes several Masses, meetings with civil and religious authorities, meetings with bishops, priests and men and women religious, a visit to a women’s prison, a private meeting with his fellow Jesuits, and encounters with indigenous peoples. A visit to Trujillo in northern Peru to visit those affected by the El Niño rains that left 100 dead and 141,000 displaced in early 2017.

The final event on the papal agenda next Sunday is Mass at Las Palmas Air Base in front of the image of the Lord of the Miracles. Francis and his entourage and the journalists covering this trip will depart for Rome that afternoon, arriving in the Eternal City about 2 p.m. on January 22.

Click here for the full itinerary: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2017-11/programme-of-pope-francis–apostolic-visit-to-peru-and-chile-rel.html

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES – SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR – THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

FYI: See Press Office Director Greg Burke said in a statement today, January 12, that Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Major of Kyiv-Halyč of the Ukrainians and, on Sunday, January 28 at 4 pm, will visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome and meet with the Ukrainian Greek/Catholic community.

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

I welcome you to Vatican Insider on a weekend –specifically on the second Sunday after the Epiphany – when the Church celebrates the World day of Migrants and Refugees. Because of this world day and the growing numbers of both migrants and refugees throughout the world and related issues for governments, you will absolutely want to tune in to Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of ICMI – International Catholic Migration Commission.

He is an affable, capable, multi-lingual trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS and global health. From 2005 to 2016, he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS. As we spoke in Rome, I learned so much about the Church’s work in this area and it was absolutely fascinating. This is a front page issue today so do not miss our conversation!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR

Friday, January 19, at 5 pm, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia will inaugurate the new illumination of Saint Mary Major Basilica. The LED illumination links advanced technology with respect for the environment and will allow an 80% savings, according to a Vatican communiqué.

Last April 19, an agreement to collaborate on the joint development of the lighting project was signed between the basilica, the archpriest of the papal basilica, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the governorate of Vatican City State and the Fundacion Endesa within the framework of its program of artistic illumination to preserve cultural and artistic patrimony.

Work began last June under the direction of the technical services of Vatican City State.

As I noted in my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” all who visit this papal basilica
are drawn to the arrestingly beautiful ceiling, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI for the Holy Year 1500 and designed by Giuliano da Sangallo. The 105 wood-carved panels, each a meter square, were placed over the original trussed ceiling and then gilded with some of the gold brought from the newly discovered Americas by Columbus and given to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Peruvian gold was then donated by the Spanish Royals to Pope Alexander VI, also a Spaniard. This added magnificence induced Romans to call this “the golden basilica.”

The basilica has been under the patronage of Spanish kings since that time and even today the Spanish monarch is a canon of St. Mary Major. In theory the king should visit the basilica once a year. If he cannot do so, he names a delegate, usually the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See. Once every year there is a Mass in the basilica for Spain and the Spanish people.

Twenty-four canons, named by the Holy Father, are responsible for the basilica – for its administration, repairs and the day-to-day tasks of overseeing visitors and preparing liturgical services.

I took these photos of the ceiling several years ago during the legendary August 5 “snowfall.”

Here’s the story:

The year was 358 A.D. John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and requested that they build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night.

John and his wife went to tell Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. The next morning, August 5, the highest of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline, was covered in snow, as witnessed by John, his wife, the Pope and his entourage, and a throng of Romans. Pope Liberius took a stick and traced the sign of the future basilica in the snow, a basilica which would be forever known as Our Lady of the Snows, in addition to the name it bears today, St. Mary Major, the greatest – and the oldest – Marian church.

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5. Each year, during a solemn high Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

(ChurchPOP) – This year, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching against the use of contraception.

For Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Paul VI was much more than just a great moral teacher – he was a prophet.

“That section of the encyclical,” Bp. Barron explains, referring to section 17 in which Paul VI predicts the social consequences of contraception, “I will confess to you, jumped out at me as I reread it, because I thought ‘Wow, 1968, but this man was looking very clearly into our time.’”

He then goes through Paul IV’s three big predictions about what a world that widely accepts contraception would look like: (1) more marital infidelity and lower moral standards for young people, (2) men feeling more free to objectify women, and (3) governments imposing contraception on their citizens.

Today, 50 years since the sexual revolution, it’s clear all of these have come true: sexual morality and marriage has collapsed, women are widely viewed as mere sex objects by men, and the Little Sisters of the Poor and others in the US have suffered from the HHS mandate, not to mention the much more severe population control policies in places like China.

Looking at our world today, it’s amazing how accurate Paul VI was. Which makes it all the more tragic that so many people, both within and without the Church, haven’t more closely heeded his warnings.

Click here to view Bishop Barron’s video at end of article: Https://churchpop.com/2018/01/11/bishop-barron-explains-why-pope-paul-vi-was-a-prophet-with-humanae-vitae/

POPE’S VISIT TO CHILE AND PERU CONFIRMS COMMITMENT TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES – THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE AMAZON AWAIT POPE FRANCIS

POPE’S VISIT TO CHILE AND PERU CONFIRMS COMMITMENT TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, held a briefing on Thursday in the Vatican to illustrate Pope Francis’ upcoming pastoral journey to Chile and Peru – BY LINDA BORDONI

Pope Francis’ upcoming upcoming apostolic visit to Chile and Peru January 15-21 will take him to regions which are not only their country’s poorest and most peripheral, but where environmental issues and demands for indigenous land rights have even led to unrest and violence.

Burke said Francis knows the two countries well, having spent one and a half years in Chile during his novitiate and having travelled to Peru on various occasions. He also said he knows all of the bishops who have recently undertaken their “ad limina” visits to Rome.

The Pope’s weeklong journey is of course a pastoral one. As Francis highlighted in his video-message of greeting just ahead of his departure, he emphasized how he is coming to share the peace and the hope of the Lord in the spirit and joy of the Gospel.

Environment and rights of Indigenous Peoples

Burke confirmed the environmental aspect of the journey and issues pertaining to the rights of indigenous peoples are clearly one of the main themes of the journey. journey

In Chile the Pope will travel to the southern Araucania region where Mapuche communities have been stripped of their land repeatedly – first by Spanish colonists, then by settlers who moved to the region to farm, and more recently by timber plantations. It is here, in the city of Temuco that the Pope will celebrate Mass together with groups of indigenous peoples and then share lunch with their representatives and with the Bishop of Temuco.

On the second leg of his journey, Francis is scheduled to meet with Amazonian indigenous people in the city of Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southeastern Madre de Dios region. It’s a particularly symbolic venue as the city is seen as the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon that covers almost 60% of the nation’s territory and is increasingly being exploited by the extractive and timber industries that, in turn, are forcing more and more indigenous tribes from their ancestral lands and livelihoods.

It is also where gold mining has left large expanses of barren land and pit mines, an activity which has led to forced labor, trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, and one of the highest murder rates in the country.

Synod of Bishops Pan Amazon region

This event in particular is seen as a window on the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region which will take place in the Vatican in October 2019. That’s why Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to host the event together with members of REPAM: the Pan-Amazonian Church Network.

Intense schedule

In both countries, as per protocol, Pope Francis will engage in meetings with political authorities. He will also meet with bishops, priests, religious and lay people, he will celebrate 5 Holy Masses, dedicate time and prayer to Marian celebrations, to honoring local Saints, and to meeting with his Jesuit brothers.

He will dedicate much time, as he always does, to meeting with the people, especially the young, the poor and those in vulnerable situations like prison inmates and the urban poor living in slums as well as those affected by the El Nino in Peru who have lost lands and homes in flooding and mudslides.

To the question: “will the Pope be meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse in Chile?”, Burke answered there is nothing on the program to that regard, but, he said, “everything is possible, and what’s more: ‘unscheduled meetings are often the best!’”

THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE AMAZON AWAIT POPE FRANCIS

In another piece by Linda Bordoni, we see that one of the highlights of Pope Francis’ upcoming apostolic visit to Peru is represented by a meeting with indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest in the city of Maldonado. In fact, Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Peruvian city of Puerto Maldonado will undoubtedly give visibility and voice to the indigenous people of the Amazon.

Linda wrote that, in an interview published by the Pan-Amazonian Church Network – Repam – Fr Manuel Jesus Romero of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado said the Amazon’s indigenous people have an urgent need to make their rights known as they are increasingly pushed from their ancestral lands.

To learn more about that interview: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-01/peru-journey-pope-amazon-indigenous-puerto-maldonado.html

 

FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER – ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES – CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

MISSING IN ACTION – Apologies for two days of silence on this page, especially after a weekend filled with big stories – the Epiphany celebrations on Saturday, the 34 children baptized by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and the annual papal “state of the world” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday. I was under the weather, as the expression goes, on Monday and spent Tuesday recovering from Monday. Being online, researching and reading Vatican news and then posting stories was not high on my agenda, important as they were.

I was briefly online Monday to read the papal speech to the diplomats, given its importance and the subjects and places he covers in this “lights and shadows” look at the world. The 5300-word talk lasted about 45 minutes and was published in 8 languages by the Vatican.

Along with the papal speech, the Vatican published a “Note on the Diplomatic Relations of the Holy See, 08.01.2018.” It listed the number of countries and organizations with diplomatic ties to the Holy See, the new ambassadors as of January 2017, and also listed the resident and non-resident ambassadors. I was fascinated by one paragraph dedicated to the women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, noting that there were 25 women diplomats.

When I returned to the news site today to look for that specific information about women ambassadors, it was gone. It no longer appears on the press office bulletin, on http://www.vatican.va or http://www.vaticannews.va. I searched the Internet to see if some colleague or news source has published it but my search for “women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See” was in vain. I also looked for “accredited to the Vatican” although that is technically incorrect.

Just moments ago I had my own epiphany, remembering where I first saw that information in Italian – in my own mailbox! I went back to January 8 and sure enough, there it was! I found the two press office attachments when I opened that (then) embargoed papal talk and the Note that I received via email at 9:45 am on January 8. I had not dreamed up the numbers and I do have a good memory!

Here is the info (my translation from the Italian) missing from Vatican websites:

Among the ambassadors, 25 are women: 12 are resident ambassadors (Australia, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Panama, Perú, San Marino, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America); 13 are non-resident: (Burundi, United Arab Emirates, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Sweden).

This too was in an original text from the Holy See Press Office:

Between January1, 2017 and January 7, 2018, 31 new ambassadors, of whom 17 are resident, presented their Letters of Credence (Credentials) to the Holy Father: (Ghana, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Nigeria, Mexico, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, USA, Uruguay); e 14 non residenti: (Mauritania, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Niger, Sudan, Trinidad e Tobago, Yemen, New Zelanda, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein, India).

I wonder who decided and why it was decided not to include those two paragraphs, especially on women ambassadors, in the final version of the news sites.

A CHOIR, A HOTEL AND A POLISH SAINT – In addition to Vatican and papal news, I had every intention of sharing the wonderful Saturday evening I spent in the presence of two choirs that sang at the papal Mass on the Epiphany, principally the young people’s amazing choir of Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, along with members of St. Anne’s choir from Laguna Niguel. I was invited to join them for dinner at a hotel I had heard of but never visited, the Kolbe Hotel.

From their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristCathedralMusic/

The hotel was named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who died in the Auschwitz concentration during World War II. The Nazi prison guards chose 10 people to be put to death and prisoner 16670 Kolbe offered to take the place of a stranger. We commemorated his birthday on Monday, January 8. The hotel premises are part of a structure built in 1625 that became a Franciscan monastery in 2012. Renovations started on the premises in 2007 and the result is what we see today, the Kolbe Hotel, part of which is still a Franciscan monastery.

In coming days, I’ll bring you some of the photos and stories I intended to publish Monday on this page.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A CHRISTMAS TREE – I’m sure you saw the news and photos over the holidays of Rome’s unbelievably scrawny Christmas tree placed in the capital’s central Piazza Venezia. Nicknamed “the mangy one” it eventually found a fond place in the hearts of Romans and visitors, but not before the world’s media found every way possible to make fun of it.

Now that the holidays are over, what will become of the much-mocked tree?

Well, it will be carved up and turned into souvenirs and a lactation hut for mothers and babies, city officials said Tuesday. Here’s the story:
http://www.yourconroenews.com/news/world/article/Rome-s-mangy-Christmas-tree-to-be-carved-up-into-12484838.php

And now, some Vatican news stories from today…..

FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

Pope Francis continued his series of general audience catecheses on the Mass that he began last November by pointing out. “In our catechesis on the Holy Eucharist, we now turn to the Gloria and the Opening Prayer. Having confessed our sinfulness and asked God’s forgiveness in the penitential rite, “ he said, “we recite, on Sundays and holydays, the ancient hymn “Glory to God in the highest”. Echoing the song of the angels at our Lord’s birth, we praise the mercy of the Father in sending his Son who takes away the sins of the world.

Francis explained that, “the Opening Prayer is also called the ‘Collect’, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers. The priest’s invitation, ‘Let us pray,’ is followed by a moment of silence, as we open our hearts and bring our personal needs to the Lord. The Opening Prayer praises the Father’s provident love revealed in history and then implores his continued help as we strive to live as his sons and daughters in Christ.

“With the invitation ‘Let us pray,’ the priest exhorts the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to be conscious of being in the presence of God and to have arise, in each one’s heart, the personal intentions with which he takes part in the Mass.” In this moment of silence, “each one thinks of the things of which he is in need, what he wishes to ask for in prayer.”

“By ancient tradition,” said the Pope, “the prayer is addressed to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. By reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.”

ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES

Pope Francis through his apostolic almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, has invited the poor, the homeless, refugees, a group of prisoners, needy persons and families together with their volunteers, to attend a circus.

The Medruno circus – its owners, benefactors and performers – has placed at the disposition of the Holy Father all of its 2,100 seats in the big tent for this charity event. In fact, the Casartelli family and entrepreneur Fabrizio Grande are calling this “a circus of solidarity” with the Holy Father’s poor.

Once, during a general audience, Pope Francis spoke of circus performers, saying they “create beauty, they are creators of beauty and this does the soul good! How great is our need for beauty!” This then is the gift offered by the artists of the circus who, with constant commitment and many sacrifices, succeed in creating and giving beauty to themselves and to others. This can become also for our poorest brothers an encouragement to overcome the bitter moments and the difficulties of life that so many times seem so great and impossible to overcome.

Also available will be a medical service offered by volunteer doctors and nurses with an ambulance and a mobile ambulatory from Vatican City. At the end of the circus, those in need will receive also a carry out dinner bag,

CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

The Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life promulgated today, Wednesday 10 January 2018, the Decree for the Compulsory Administration of the Society of Apostolic Life Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Christian Life Society), appointing as Apostolic Commissioner of the aforementioned Society H.E. Msgr. Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago, C.Ss.R., bishop of Jericó (Antioquia), Colombia.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., continues to be the referent for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, as Delegate ad nutum in relation to Sodalitium Christianae Vitae and with regard to economic issues in particular.

The Holy Father Francis has closely followed all the information that, for several years, has come to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the situation of the Christian Life Society. The Pope has shown himself to be particularly attentive to the seriousness of the information concerning the internal regime, formation and economic and financial management, which is why he has asked the Dicastery to pay particular attention. In addition to this, a series of measures have recently been adopted by the Peruvian judicial authority against Mr. Luis Fernando Figari. After a thorough analysis of all the documentation, the Dicastery issued the Decree for Compulsory Administration.

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS: THE REAL JOY OF GIVING

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS: THE REAL JOY OF GIVING

I became aware of the possibility of having a very different Christmas in the U.S when I spotted a blog just days after Thanksgiving that featured five individuals, wearing white aprons and broad smiles, who had just served Thanksgiving dinner to some of Chicago’s homeless through Catholic Charities Chicago.

I wrote the blog author, congratulating him and saying that was something I would love to do. He wrote back and, with a lot of exclamation marks, said they would be doing it again on Christmas Day, that I was most welcome to join the volunteers and he then told me how and where to participate!

And so my Christmas Day 2017 began.

Well, Christmas Day really began, of course with Mass at one of my favorite churches in America, Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. The presider at the 9:30 Mass – though I did not know this when I decided on that Mass – was Msgr. Michael Boland, head of Catholic Charities in Chicago and a long time friend. Here are a few photos I took before and after Mass.

The “Resurrection Cross”

I returned briefly to my hotel after Mass to pick up some special items I had brought for the occasion, including several hundred holy cards that featured a picture of Pope Francis and some of his words that I wanted to leave with the homeless.

When I arrived at the CC office on LaSalle street shortly after 11, I was surprised and delighted to note the large number of volunteers, especially because it was Christmas and also because there seemed to be quite a number of families. You somehow picture families at home, sharing breakfast, opening gifts, kids playing with new toys, etc.

The volunteers all lined up to receive a white plastic apron and pair of plastic gloves. We were ushered into the dining room where, on one side round tables of ten were set for over 100 people and, on the other side, were long tables with abundant servings of many, many kinds of foods.

 

 

Each volunteer had a specific assignment. Those with more experience were table captains and they directed each of us carrying a tray to those tables where people had yet to be served. Each volunteer who was to serve food received a tray with two plates on it, and each plate was filled to overflowing by the volunteers serving behind the food stations.

Smaller tables were set up with desserts and beverages – it was almost exclusively the turf of the younger  family members!

 

 

 

I joined what I called “the dessert brigade” where each of us was given a plate with several desserts and one soft drink. We followed those with the dinner plates to the tables, and returned to our stations to repeat the same process. Yet others were assigned to fill water glasses and coffee cups.

Msgr. Boland was present to the very end, even when the first group of homeless had finished dinner and those waiting to eat were ushered into the dining room – a festively decorated room, I might add.

We served several hundred people by the end of the lunchtime, and I have to say it was such a heartening experience for so many reasons. I especially loved the idea that we were serving people at tables, not making them stand in a long buffet line. That certainly preserves an iota of human dignity for people who may not feel very dignified for the greater part of each day.

There was not very much time, as you could imagine, to speak individually with each homeless person but everyone with whom I spoke was cordial and polite and full of smiles – especially if you asked their name! I learned that there were some who were not homeless but rather people who do not have much and who live simply, perhaps in a one-room apartment, but have trouble connecting with others. The people they know best and are most comfortable with are those they break bread with at the food kitchens for the homeless.

The homeless also have networks. They know where to get lunch and dinner every day, be it in the city or the suburbs, be it in a church or a school or the hall of some fraternal organization, and they share that info among themselves. They know where bathrooms are available and also know where the warming shelters are, such as those needed right after Christmas when temperatures plummeted so far that anyone sleeping outside would have surely died of the cold.

All of the food served through Catholic Charities five days a week is donated by Chicago restaurants! It is cooked and ready to be served when it arrives at the food kitchens. The diversity of the menu and the quantities offered were staggering – at least to me, a first time volunteer.

When the Christmas guests left the CC center, each one received a pair of gloves and one of the holy cards I had brought from Rome. Who knows…..

Individual parishes or organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or the Knights of Malta serve the meals Monday through Wednesday and volunteers come from the specific parish or organization. Holy Name Cathedral staff and parishioners volunteer on Thursdays and Fridays.

What most surprised and delighted me were the number of families who volunteered! And not just on Christmas Day – they come during the year as well. To see a family of 5 or 6 – Mom and Dad and the kids, even as young as 5! – was so very heart-warming!

To see the very young ones, and especially teenagers, have a good time, serve with joy and truly want to be volunteering was one of the biggest rewards of the day for me. My favorite was a little boy, about 5 or 6, whose name was Charlie. Charlie was the fastest member of the dessert brigade and probably had the biggest smile, I might add.

It was gratifying to think that these young people are learning at a tender age that there are people in the world who do not have what they have, a warm home, a family, an education and a much better chance in life to grow up and have their own family and home. These young people learn early about sacrifice, about helping others, about being altruistic, about the real meaning of charity.

There were no groans of “Mom, do I really have to be here!” or complaints about not being home Christmas morning. No pleading, “Are we through? Can we go home now?”

I saw – and experienced – the real joy of giving!

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES – NATIONS LOOK TO HOLY SEE FOR LEADERSHIP ON MIGRATION AND REFUGEES

Weekend News update: Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, January 6, feast of the Epiphany, and will also celebrate Mass on Sunday, January 7, feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, doing so in the Sistine Chapel during which he will baptize 34 newborns, 18 girls and 16 boys.. He will also recite the Angelus on both days.

Here is a link to the story and video about the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intention for January 2018: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/pope–let-us-pray-for-religious-liberty-in-asia.html#play

If you want to understand how the U.S. diplomatic service functions, pay a visit to the website of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See: https://va.usembassy.gov/

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

Just days ago, on January 1, 2018, we celebrated the 51st World Day of Peace with Pope Francis’ annual Message for this day entitled, “Migrants and Refugees – Men and Women in Search of Peace.” Thus, the interview segment for this week’s Vatican Insider is more than appropriate as my special guest is Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of the Geneva-based ICMI – the International Catholic Migration Commission.

An American, Msgr. Vitillo is a trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS, and global health. From 2005 to 2016 he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS. ICMC is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that works in the area of migration and refugee assistance. ICMC was founded in 1951 in the wake of the massive human displacement caused by World War II.

I learned so much in Part I of our conversation, and I am sure you will as well! I learned, for example, how ICMC vets migrants and refugees who want to enter the U.S., doing so for the U.S. State Department and for the Department of Homeland Security.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

NATIONS LOOK TO HOLY SEE FOR LEADERSHIP ON MIGRATION AND REFUGEES

(Vatican News – Philippa Hitchens) – Fr. Michael Czerny highlights the importance of Pope Francis’ Peace Day Message in preparation for the U.N. compacts on refugees and migrants.

The rights of refugees and migrants will be under the spotlight throughout 2018 as the United Nations works towards the adoption of two global agreements or ‘compacts’, responding to the largest number of displaced people since the Second World War.

In this year’s message for the January 1st World Day of Peace, Pope Francis also focused on migrants and refugees, highlighting the reasons why so many people are on the move and what our response should be.

As governments and communities seek to cope with large numbers of people fleeing from conflict or poverty, the Pope says, it’s vital to find creative, bold and compassionate solutions, rather than fomenting fear of migrants, thus “sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia”

Fr. Michael Czerny is undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees office at the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development. He talks about the importance of the 2018 Peace Day message – the first one to focus on this key area of international concern.

Fr. Michael says the message highlights how migrants and refugees are “not just people in difficulty, who need help, but are “artisans of peace, contributors to peace, builders of peace”.

Dialogue with Governments

Though the message was published in November, he says “the dialogue with governments is just beginning” as politicians receive a personal copy of the text at the start of the new year and as the Pope comments on it during his high profile meeting with members of the diplomatic corps.

Fr. Michael notes how much the Holy See’s concerns are appreciated at international level by all those preparing for both UN compacts on migrants and refugees.

Looking for Leadership

The Vatican missions in New York and Geneva will be actively involved in negotiations, he notes, adding: “What is very satisfying and hopeful and challenging is that many fellow states, nation states, look to the Holy See for leadership in this area”.

Fr. Michael’s office has worked with major Catholic refugee organisations and with bishops’ conferences to develop 20 action points, which are both “a pastoral plan” and “a negotiating platform”. He says they have been submitted to UN for both the migrants and refugee processes and have been “warmly welcomed” as “quite outstanding contributions to the processes”.

Highlighting Postive Contributions

Commenting on the strong opposition to migrants and refugees by some governments, Fr. Michael says “our role is not to get into arguments” but to quietly and repeatedly bring forward the positive experiences”, making governments “see that with less investment and more goodwill they’ll get much further than by imagining they can pay their way or bully their way out of this”.

He cites “heartwarming stories” of abandoned villages where migrants have helped to rebuild a thriving agriculture, giving rise to commerce, a return of tourism, and regeneration of family life with schools reopened and parishes booming. “New life is possible”, he concludes, “if you’re willing to share what there is and be open to new possibilities”.

POPE VISITS PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL ON “MERCY FRIDAY”

POPE VISITS PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL ON “MERCY FRIDAY”

At 3 pm this afternoon, Friday, January 5, 2018 Pope Francis went to the
Palidoro campus of Rome’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital. This site is located about 30 kilometers north of Rome. The visit continues the Mercy Friday experiences that the Pope initiated during the Jubilee of Mercy that began December 8, 2015 and ended in November 2016.

According to a note from the Vatican press office, the Holy Father visited various wards, greeted the children who are patients there and had words of comfort for the parents who are with their children in these tiring and painful trials. (photos from Vatican News)