A TIME FOR PRAYER AND MEDITATION FOR CHILE’S BISHOPS – GENERAL AUDIENCE: FINAL CATECHESIS ON BAPTISM AND APPEAL FOR PEACE – CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS CALLS FOR PRAYERS FOR GAZA

A TIME FOR PRAYER AND MEDITATION FOR CHILE’S BISHOPS

Pope Francis gave the bishops of Chile a series of themes for meditation at their first meeting Tuesday afternoon in the Vatican. A second meeting is Wednesday afternoon and two are scheduled for Thursday, May 17. (vatianmedia photo)

The Holy Father called the meeting with the Chilean episcopate to address the crisis of clerical sexual abuse, and the failure of church leaders to respond adequately to it. The meeting was prompted by the reception of 2300-page report by two special envoys sent by Pope Francis earlier this year, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Fr. Jordi Bertomeu Farnós. Both travelled to the Americas to hear testimony from victims of clerical abuse.

Upon receiving the final report, Pope Francis “humbly” requested the bishops’ “collaboration and assistance in discerning the short-, mid-, and long-term measures that must be adopted to re-establish ecclesial communion in Chile, with the goal of repairing as much as possible the scandal, and re-establishing justice.” The meeting in Rome is intended to discuss the results of the envoys’ visit and discuss the Pope’s conclusions.

A time for meditation and prayer

The Pope held the first meeting with the bishops on Tuesday afternoon in the auletta or small hall of the Paul VI Hall. There were 34 Chilean bishops in attendance. According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the Pope gave each of the Bishops a text with themes for meditation. “From this moment and until the next meeting, a time is open [which is] dedicated exclusively to meditation and prayer,” the statement said. (Vatican News)

GENERAL AUDIENCE: FINAL CATECHESIS ON BAPTISM AND APPEAL FOR PEACE

Pope Francis began this week’s general audience in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square by noting that, “In this, our final catechesis on Baptism, we turn to the rites illustrating the grace of the sacrament. Following an ancient tradition, the newly baptized are robed in a white garment signifying their new life in Christ, and are admonished to preserve it unstained for eternal life. Since, as Saint Paul says, the baptized have been clothed in Christ (cf. Gal 3:27), they are called to cultivate every virtue, especially charity, which binds the others together (cf. Col 3:14).

“So too,” added Francis, “the taper lighted from the paschal candle symbolizes the light of Christ and the warmth of his love which, with the help of the parents and godparents, must be nurtured through education in the Christian life. These rites evoke not only our communion in the Church on earth but also point to its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will be our light for ever (cf. Rev 22:5).”

The Holy Father explained that, “the rite of Baptism concludes with the Our Father, as the expression of our dignity as God’s adoptive children in Christ. May all of us cherish the gift of grace we received on the day of our Baptism, and let ourselves be guided at every step by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis expressed concern at the escalation of violence in the Middle East and urged for peace: “I am very concerned at the escalation of tension in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and the spiral of violence that is moving away further from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiation, …I express my great sorrow for the dead and wounded and with prayer and affection I am close to all who suffer. …I repeat that the use of violence can never lead to peace, War begets war, violence begets violence.”

He urged all parties concerned and the international community to renew their commitment to ensure that dialogue, justice and peace prevail, and recited the Hail Mary, asking everyone to join him in praying to Mary, Queen of Peace.

In closing greetings, the Pope extended his “cordial wishes” to Muslims worldwide who on Thursday begin their fasting month of Ramadan. He said he hoped this “privileged time of prayer and fasting help in walking the path of God which is of peace.”

CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS CALLS FOR PRAYERS FOR GAZA

The following statement from Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster was released today, May 16:

‘Today I have had a phone conversation with Fr. Mario da Silva, the Catholic parish priest in Gaza to offer our prayers and support. He told me that life is so hard and everyone is desperate with shortages of water and other basic necessities. He said that knowing Catholics in England & Wales and across the world remembered the people of Gaza and were praying for them was a great encouragement.

“Please pray for peace in the Middle East and especially for the people in Gaza. They are living through traumatic times of remembrance and protest at the dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation. This is a people who are both extremely vulnerable and deprived. Their fate is central to peace and peace can never be built on neglect.”

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