POPE FRANCIS ON CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE REALITY OF DEATH – FRANCIS DEPLORES TERROR ATTACK IN MOGADISHU – POPE MEETS RELIGIONS OF PEACE DELEGATION

In case you did not see Pope Francis’ tweet today: May artists spread the beauty of the faith and proclaim the grandeur of God’s creation and His boundless love for all.

FYI: The October 20, 21 and 22 Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference that I am attending, covering and speaking at will be streamed via Youtube as well as on www.hictv.com (Hawaii Catholic TV). Hawaii Catholic TV, by the way, has been kind enough to help me film my segments for my Monday and Thursday appearances on “At Home with Jim and Joy.”

The schedule of conference events including speakers, break out sessions and the Tongan Mass on Saturday with Cardinal Mafi is here: www.dmcchawaii.org   Check the time in your part of the world. Honolulu is 6 hours behind the East Coast (ET) and 3 behind Pacific Time.

POPE FRANCIS ON CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE REALITY OF DEATH

The papal catechesis this morning at the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square focused, as Francis himself told pilgrims, “on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.”

Francis explained that, “It is Jesus, however, who ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.”

The Holy Father also spoke of the Gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus to ask him to save his sick daughter. Jesus answered Jairus’ faith-filled request: “Do not fear, only believe.” And this is what the Pope urged Christians: belief, not fear.

Francis said: “We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: ‘Talitha cum’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise’. To each of us, he will say: ‘I say to you, arise’.”

“Here is our Christian hope,” the Pope summarized. “Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’; if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise.”.

FRANCIS DEPLORES TERROR ATTACK IN MOGADISHU

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people, including children, in the Somali capital Mogadishu. (photo news.va)

 

Speaking during the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wished to express his sorrow for the massacre that took place on Saturday.

“This terrorist act , he said, deserves to be most strongly deplored, also because it falls on a population that is already suffering deeply”. Linda Bordoni reports:

The Pope said he is praying for the dead, for the wounded, for their families and for the whole people of Somalia.

“I implore the conversion of those who are violent and send my encouragement to those, who with enormous difficulties, are working for peace in that tortured land” he said.

On the ground in Mogadishu nearly 70 people are still missing  from Saturday’s bomb blast that killed more than 300 people in one of the world’s deadliest attacks in years

The death toll of 302 is expected to rise.

Somalia’s government has blamed the attack on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

POPE MEETS RELIGIONS OF PEACE DELEGATION

Pope Francis on Wednesday met a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace,” in a small room of the Paul VI Hall before presiding at the weekly general audience.  He told them, “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and ‎unique role to play in building ‎peace. They cannot be neutral, much less ‎ambiguous, where peace is concerned.”

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances common action among the world’s religious communities to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth.

 

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POPE CELEBRATES 800 YEARS OF FRANCISCANS IN THE HOLY LAND – BISHOP THANKS POPE FOR CALLING SYNOD FOR PAN-AMAZON REGION

Pope Francis tweeted today: It is the duty of the human family to help free every single person from poverty and hunger.

As a Lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, I follow any and all news on the Holy Land because it is that holy part of the world that is the first and main concern of the Order – of our activities, our pilgrimages, our financial help and our prayers. The Franciscans in the Holy Land are celebrating a historic anniversary, and Pope Francis had great praise for the Order as you’ll read below. If you’ve even been on a Holy Land pilgrimage, the Franciscans undoubtedly played a big role in your visit. Remember them in your prayers today!

The big news this weekend was Sunday’s announcement by the Holy Father of a synod for the Pan-Amazon region! The staff of the Synod of Bishops never seems to rest – they are currently working on the October 2018 synod for young people.

Before I move on, here’s a photo I took when I got up this morning. This vessel looked familiar and I remembered I had seen a news story on TV Sunday when I arrived. Here’s a related online news story with video: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/36597875/fire-ignites-aboard-vessel-stuck-in-waikiki-waters

Someone in our building told me today the big problem is trying to remove this vessel without harming the reef it is stuck on!

POPE CELEBRATES 800 YEARS OF FRANCISCANS IN THE HOLY LAND

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land marking the 800th anniversary of their presence as guardians of the holy sites in modern day Israel and Palestine.

In the letter, published on Tuesday, the pope praises the Franciscans for their vital contribution to life in the Holy Land, in particular their work to accompany pilgrims coming from all over the world. (photo: news.va)

The Pope recalls the way that Saint Francis, in May 1217 during the chapter of his recently founded order, decided to send the friars out on mission. The first missionaries to the Holy Land arrived that summer in the town of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel and just over a hundred years later, Pope Clement VI confirmed them as the custodians of the holy places.

Sowing peace, fraternity, respect

In the message, Pope Francis notes how the Franciscans live alongside people of different cultures and religions, sowing seeds of “peace, fraternity and respect”. As well as their work as guides for pilgrims, the Pope recalls, they are also committed to biblical and archaeological studies. Franciscans also work closely with the local Churches taking care of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young people who find it hard to keep up hope amidst the ongoing conflict.

Collection for the Holy Land

The Pope says that the Franciscans are ambassadors for the whole people of God, who support them through the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land and through the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches, which is currently marking the centenary of its foundation.

BISHOP THANKS POPE FOR CALLING SYNOD FOR PAN-AMAZON REGION

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne in French Guyana reacted with joy Monday when he heard Pope Francis’ announcement of a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region.

French Guyana and Suriname are part of the Amazon territory together with Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. (photo news.va)

Pope Francis had announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelization and on the crisis of the rain forest. The announcement came on Sunday during the Angelus after a canonization Mass during which he canonized 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico.

As well as being an essential ‘lung’ for the entire planet as Pope Francis said when he made the announcement, the six million square kilometers that define the region are home to indigenous tribes and even uncontacted peoples whose cultures and whose very existences are threatened by large-scale logging, mining and other industrial projects as well as by pollution and climate change

Speaking to Vatican Radio Bishop Lafont said he is very grateful to Pope Francis for having called this Synod.

“I am very happy, grateful to the Holy Father for having called this Synod which is most important” he said.

For the benefit of the indigenous peoples

First of all, Bishop Lafont continued “for the benefit of the indigenous people – the First Nations – of the Amazonian region, because they have a long history, for the past 500 years of submission, of exploitation, of misunderstanding.”

For the protection of Creation

The second reason for which he is grateful, the Bishop said, that “the Amazon is one of the most important regions in the world for the protection of Creation” and it is currently facing many challenges. “The Church, he said, ought to speak even more loudly for the protection of the region, and for the sake of the protection of the whole world”.

 

ALOHA FROM HONOLULU!

October 16th has always had a special place in my mind and my heart as it was on that day, 39 years ago, that a Polish cardinal was elected to the See of Peter and took the names John Paul II. I was actually in Cairo, Egypt the night he was elected and that in itself is a great story – but for another day.

I followed almost every day of St. John Paul’s magnificent papacy, and our lives intertwined a number of times during the years I worked in the Vatican. When I tell people those stories, they always say “God bless you!”  And I reply, “He really has!”

As a saint, he is now with us, more than ever. Someone to pray to and someone whose life (and death) can be an inspiration!

ALOHA FROM HONOLULU!

Yesterday was a remarkable day, as I posted on Facebook during my travels….travels that encompassed 4 cities (Rome, Frankfurt, San Francisco and Honoulu) and 12 time zones in 24 hours!

I was tired but, oddly enough, not exhausted and attribute some of that to PMA, a Positive Mental Attitude. I try to immediately adjust to where I am, not think about what time it is where I came from, and then just proceed as normal. I went to a local ABC store, got things for breakfast, had a sandwich for dinner and then unpacked.

As you know, I’m here for this weekend’s Saints Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference at the convention center. I’ve already been in touch with my friends here and with conference organizers and things look very promising – lots of enthusiasm about the conference guest speakers (https://www.dmcchawaii.org/speakers).

As I was about to get off the plane in San Francisco, I told the attendant who had been such a jewel on the flight from Frankfurt that I still had a six-hour flight ahead of me to Honolulu. A woman in the seat in front of me remarked how lucky I was to be going there, I agreed and explained I was going to attend a conference and give a talk. She asked the subject and I replied that I’d be speaking on how to become a saint! The woman smiled and said she wished she could attend the conference, and then asked me to tell her how one becomes a saint. I said, “If by chance you’re on the flight to Hawaii, I can explain!”

As I sit at a table in the wonderful condo of a good friend to write this column, I once again marvel at the beauty of this land I love. Windows surround me, and everywhere I look, I see the Pacific Ocean, the white, foamy surf, the surfers on big, crashing waves, the sunbathers on Waikiki beach, the palm trees and my favorite, the plumeria trees. And then there’s Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater and surely Hawaii’s most famous landmark. It is directly in front of me as I write these lines.

As the saying goes, “Life’s a beach”

It’s also  –

And Diamond Head –

And St. Augustine Church –

And –

This was the first photo I ever took of Diamond Head –

As I was going through my photos, I found this picture from a previous trip and only now realize the tall building on the right is where I am staying – the penultimate floor (above me is the penthouse)

I found the following on a site about historic Pacific parks: Lē‘ahi is the traditional Hawaiian place name for the crater. It is said that Hi’iaka, sister of the fire goddess Pele, gave Lē‘ahi its name because the summit resembles the forehead of the ‘ahi fish. Another translation is “fire headland” and refers to the navigation fires that were lit at the summit to assist canoes traveling along the shoreline.

It is hard to believe, looking at the overwhelmingly beautiful nature that marks this corner of God’s creation, that so many lives were marked for so many years by exile, pain, loneliness and deprivation in this paradise. Families were separated and, most often, never able to be together again. The years, the decades, well over a century in fact, when people with leprosy were exiled to the Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai, those were dark years of hopelessness and fear – fear of contagion of a terrible disease for which, at the time, there was no remedy or cure.

There was no beauty on Kalaupapa for those exiles. They lived each day wondering about food, sanitation, a roof over their heads and, of course, medicines and medical care.

There was no hope for a bright future, for a job, for a tomorrow that promised to be even minimally better than today.

Until Fr. Damien arrived in 1873 at this isolated settlement to bring comfort and hope to these outcasts. Sixteen years among the patients of Hansen’s disease, improving their lot, little by little, day by day, trying to restore a lost sense of human dignity. Sixteen years of living heroic virtues until he died of leprosy in 1889.

In November 1888, a year before Fr. Damien died, Mother Marianne Cope arrived with six Sisters of St. Francis. She worked with the exiles for 30 years and died in 1918.

Damien and Marianne are the saints whose lives and virtues we will be looking at this weekend.

As the conference webpage states, its focus is “the respect of human life and dignity, marriage, youth and family life, education, social justice and evangelism.

*******************

A NOTE FOR TRAVELLERS : I flew from San Fran to Honolulu on United and, even though the flight is nearly six hours long, United does not serve a meal – you have to buy food. It is basically just snack food, except for a hamburger, a chicken wrap or a small pizza.   United offered the same terrible choice on my September 9-hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu and that prompted me to write to the president of the airlines and to essentially say that not serving a meal on a 9-hour flight was inhuman.

I wrote the letter while on the plane and told the crew and they were delighted! They said they’d LOVE to serve a meal and were happy I wrote because they feel the powers-to-be listen more to passengers than to the personnel.  I did get a very nice, lengthy letter from president Munoz’s assistant and some compensation for the issues encountered on the flight. She said there was one issue they were not aware of and was happy I wrote.

These lines are just to let you know that, as customers of a service you are paying for, you have rights, including the right to complain when something does not go as promised. Don’t make it angry, just factual.

 

 

 

VATICAN INSIDER: A LOOK AT THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE – POPE SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES AND PRAYERS FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Pope Francis tweeted the following on this historical day – 100 years ago, the final Marian apparition to the three shepherd children at Fatima: In this centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we thank God for the countless blessings we have received under her protection.

It’s probably far-fetched to say “If you happen to be in Honolulu next week….” but I will say that to the many friends (and fans!) I have in the Hawaiian capital, inviting one and all to come to the Hawaii Convention Center on October 20, 21 and 22 for the Saints Damien and Marianne Conference (www.dmcchawaii.org) . I’ll be there to write about the conference, interview guests (including Cardinal Mafi of Tonga!) and post some videos on Facebook Live. I’ve also been asked to speak and have been working on what I hope will be an informational and inspirational talk that I’ve titled, “A PhD in Sainthood.”

I leave Sunday and, after a very long trip, expect to spend Monday researching and writing and preparing several televised segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy.” Catholic TV in Honolulu has kindly agreed to tape those segments for us!

Aloha – until we meet again!

VATICAN INSIDER: A LOOK AT THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE

Tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend when my guest on the interview segment is Vicki Thorn, a recently re-appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. You have heard Vicki before as she is the founder of Project Rachel and also Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee.

The academy, founded by Pope St. John Paul II and professor Jerome Lejeune in 1994, is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic and carries out research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology. Over the years it has promoted and developed the Church’s teaching on various areas of medical ethics, including procreation, in vitro fertilization, gene therapy, euthanasia and abortion.

The academy’s entire membership completely was dissolved last December by Pope Francis. He has since re-appointed some former members, appointed new ones and ordered that the statutes be completely re-written Listen to Vicki as she talks about the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Academy.

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 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=

POPE SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES AND PRAYERS FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the families of victims of widespread wildfires in northern California, and promising prayers for all those affected.

Signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and jointly addressed to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the Holy Father expresses his prayerful solidarity with everyone affected by the fires.

The wildfires sweeping through California have killed at least 31 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings. More than 20,00 people have been displaced by 21 fires, and as many as 400 people remain missing amid the chaos of displacement and the ongoing battle to bring the blazes under control.

Following is the papal telegram:

The Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone ,Archbishop of San Francisco

The Most Reverend José Horacio Gómez ,Archbishop of Los Angeles

Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.  He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.  His Holiness offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this tragedy. To all he sends his blessing.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State

 

CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY – PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

Pope Francis tweeted today: The statute of Our Lady of Aparecida was found by poor workers. May Mary bless all of us, but especially those seeking employment.

There are so many fascinating institutes, academies and other institutions in Rome that to cover them, even summarily, would require full time dedication to just this area. The same could be said for any (or all) of the Vatican’s nine congregations, some going back almost 500 years while one, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, now celebrates its centenary.

For a small idea of the nature, scope, work and jurisdiction of this congregation – From the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/profilo/rc_con_corient_pro_20030320_profile.html

CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY

Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving this morning at St. Mary Major Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He also visited the pontifical institute as it is a very short distance from the basilica.

The Congregation for Oriental Churches is responsible for the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, such as the Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean traditions, to name but three. There are about 16 million faithful in these Churches – about 1.5 % of the Catholic Church.

In his homily, Francis encouraged all Christians of the Oriental Churches to continue with their courageous witness, despite the dramatic persecutions that they suffer. Recalling the establishment of the PIO, the acronym for the pontifical institute, by Benedict XV in 1917, during the First World War, Pope Francis said that today we are living though another “piecemeal” world war. When we see the persecution and worrying exodus of Christians, he said, just like the people of the Old Testament, we cry out “Why?”

He answered by saying, if we pray and trust in the Lord, we know that “’everyone who asks, receives; those who seek, find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened’.. The Spirit is God’s great gift to us, so let’s learn how to knock courageously on the door of God’s heart. May courageous prayer inspire and sustain your service to the Church so that it may bear fruit that does not wither and die.”

Wednesday, at the general audience, Pope Francis had special greetings for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the congregation and grand chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The “Orientale” as it is known in Rome, became part of the “Gregorian Consortium” that includes the Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute, all under the direction and tutelage of the Jesuits.(source: Vatican Radio)

PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

(Vatican Radio) Church leaders from the different Eastern Catholic rites have been gathered in Rome this week to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Pope Francis visited the Institute on Thursday and issued a mesage praising its “high achievements” and reminding it to be always attentive to the “enormous challenges facing Christians in the East”.

In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV wstablished the Institute to be a bridge between East and West and to make the rich traditions of the Oriental Churches available to the entire Catholic world. A century on, the Institute maintains a world class reputation for its research, teaching and publishing on all issues of Eastern theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature, spirituality, archeology, as well as questions of ecumenical and geopolitical importance.

Jesuit Father David Nazar is the current rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Born in Canada to a family of Ukrainian origin, he’s a former superior of the Society of Jesus in Ukraine and  former Provincial of the Jesuits in the English Canada Province.

He spoke to Vatican Radio, and explained that the ‘Orientale’ as it’s known, is a papal institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, to focus on matters concerning all of the Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches.

Since many of the Eastern Churches are smaller and lacking the resources of Christians in the West, he says, the popes were concerned to make sure that the wealth of research on liturgy, ancient traditions, and original manuscripts could be made available to Christians across the globe.

Fr Nazar says that over the past century, the Jesuits have worked hard to establish a world class library, which was funded for a number of years by friends of Pope Pius XI. It remains second to none in the world, he notes, in the study of the ancient traditions and languages of the Eastern world.

Much of this work has been significant for the West as well, he adds, such as the Second Vatican Council’s document on the importance of the Eastern Churches “which would have been unimaginable without the fifty years of research that had been done at the Orientale”.

“RESIGNATION IS NOT A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE” – A PAPAL PLEA: SAY THE ROSARY FOR PEACE – PAPAL TWITTER ACCOUNT HAS 40 MILLION FOLLOWERS

 

Fifty-five years ago today, on October 11, 1962, Pope St. John XXIII opened Vatican Council II in St. Peter’s Basilica. Following are two black and white photos from that day:

A cousin of mine from Palm Beach, Florida, attended many sessions of the Council with an American delegation of bishops, including a Florida bishop.  After Phil’s death I inherited a copy of a color photo he was given after the opening session. This is a poor photo of that picture (the WordPress device to enlarge photos has never worked for me), which is a bit of family history. I have a bigger, better photo but I needed to rotate it counter clockwise and that did not work either!

“RESIGNATION IS NOT A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE”

Pope Francis, continuing his weekly audience catechesis on the Christian virtue of hope, said Wednesday, “Today I wish to speak about that dimension of hope which we can call attentive waiting.  Jesus tells his disciples to be like those who await the return of their master, with lamps alight.  As Christians, therefore, we are always attentive, awaiting the Lord’s return, when God will be all in all.”

“Every day,” continued Francis, “is a new opportunity to be attentive to God, to welcome the day as his gift, and to live that day by offering our good works to him.  Such attentiveness requires patience, however, if we are not to lose sight of God’s grace when our days are monotonous, or our difficulties many.  For no night is so long, as to make us forget the joy that comes with dawn.”

Importantly, Francis stated that, “resignation is not a Christian virtue.”

The Holy Father explained that, “as Christians, we know that Christ will return; that no matter what we may suffer, life has its purpose and deeper meaning, and that the merciful Lord will greet us at its end.  Thus we can look upon history and our own lives with confidence and hope, knowing that the future is not guided solely by the work of our hands but by God’s providence.”

The Pope concluded, “May we repeat everyday the words of the first disciples: ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ And in our most difficult moments, may we hear the consoling response of Jesus: ‘Behold, I am coming soon’.”

In his various greetings at the audience, Pope Francis had special words for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, as its members meet in plenary assembly. He entrusted their work to St. John XXIII whose liturgical memory it was Wednesday, October 11.

The congregation marks its centenary this year, as does the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Pope Francis will visit the institute tomorrow morning, after which he will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving for both institutions in St. Mary Major Basilica.

After the catechesis on hope, Francis greeted Arab-speaking pilgrims, “in particular those from Lebanon, the Holy Land and the Middle East. Our hope is based on the certainty of Christ’s return and on being ready to receive Him. For this reason let’s not abandon ourselves to the flow of events with pessimism , as if history was a train that lost control. Resignation is not a Christian virtue. May the Lord bless you and protect you from evil!

He also greeted “the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Demark, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America.  In particular I greet those who will be celebrating World Sight Day tomorrow, and I assure all who are blind and visually impaired of my closeness and prayers.  Upon you and your families, I invoke the grace of the Lord Jesus, that you may be steadfast in hope and trust in God’s providence in your lives.  May God bless you!”

A PAPAL PLEA: SAY THE ROSARY FOR PEACE

At the end of the audience catechesis, the Holy Father noted that “Friday, October 13, marks the end of the centenary of the last Marian apparitions in Fatima. With our eyes turned to the Mother of the Savior and Queen of Missions, I invite everyone, especially in this month of October, to pray the holy rosary for the intention of peace in the world. May prayer move the most unruly souls so that they banish violence from their hearts, from their words and from their gestures, and build non-violent communities that care for the common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. We can all be artisans of peace.”

PAPAL TWITTER ACCOUNT HAS 40 MILLION FOLLOWERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ Twitter account – @pontifex – has reached a milestone: 40 million followers in 9 languages. The figure is significant not only in itself, but in what it represents for the Holy Father, himself, who, like his predecessor, desires to be a Christian witness among many on the “Digital Continent”, especially through social media.

Alessandro Gisotti spoke to Msgr. Eduardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications. He is entrusted with the co-ordination of the papal accounts on Twitter and Instagram.

“40 million followers means 40 million people, 40 million hearts, minds, and passions,” said Msgr. Viganò. “It is a world, a relationship, a community: this figure emphasizes that so many people continue to follow, day after day, even by way of 140 characters, the Pope’s Magisterium, which reaches people in very different ways: from official speeches, to unscripted encounters, to Twitter characters,” Msgr. Viganò said.

Asked about the Holy Father’s social media presence more specifically, especially on Twitter and Instagram (where Francis shares photos and videos under his @franciscus handle), Msgr. Viganò said, “The Pope takes great care of his social profiles, to such an extent that he closely and carefully checks all the tweets, which are then published.” He went on to say, “This concern speaks to the [Pope’s] care for relationships. So, the Pope who calls himself a ‘grandfather,’ who claims to  be far from new technologies, nevertheless intuits that there is a world – the social media world – that is made up of people.”

Msgr. Viganò also said, “The Church is born when the Holy Spirit overwhelms the disciples and opens the doors of the Upper Room and they take to the streets of the world. Today, among these streets are the so-called social communities. That is why the Pope is very attentive to this reality: because any relationship needs care, which is to say cor urat, that is, ‘to warm the heart’ even through a few letters.”

Gisotti asked whether Pope Francis can be taken as an example of how to use social media, so that the Internet is, “a network not of wires but of people,” as he himself wrote in his first Message for the World Day of Social Communications?

“Yes,” responded Msgr. Viganò. “This also collects the inheritance of Pope emeritus Benedict [XVI], who has made some very interesting speeches on the Net. I believe that the further step, the one we might summarize as ‘from the click to the heart’, is to imagine a community of believers, who leave traces of the allure of the Gospel of Mercy even on the Net.”

A SPOTLIGHT ON SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI’I

RECENT PAPAL TWEETS:

Sunday, October 8: When you experience bitterness, put your faith in all those who still work for good: in their humility lies the seed of a new world.

Monday, October 9: The search for peace is an open-ended task, a responsibility that never ends and that demands the commitment of everyone.

Put this on your calendar: At 5 pm Rome time on Thursday, October 26, from a small room in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis will have a linkup with the crew of the International Space Station.

A SPOTLIGHT ON SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI’I

On Sunday I leave for Hawaii to participate in the October 20-22 Saints Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference at the Honolulu Convention Center. I am very excited about the conference because, starting in 2008, I have spent years researching the lives and works of Saints Damien and Marianne Cope, and then covering their canonizations in Rome (respectively 2009 and 2012), and now I can share my stories and listen to the stories of others who also love Hawaii’s two very special saints.

And Hawaii may well have a third saint – Brother Joseph Dutton. He was not a religious brother but rather received that name from Fr. Damien himself who told Joseph one day as they worked together on Kalaupapa, “You are like a brother to everyone here.”

Born Ira Dutton, he took the name Joseph when he became a Catholic. Joseph worked for 44 years alongside Fr. Damien and Sr. Marianne and her nuns, with the leprosy patients on Kalaupapa, this hankerchief-sized piece of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Hansen’s disease is the medical name for leprosy. When it came to the Hawaiian Islands, then a kingdom, King Kamehameha V banished all those with the disease to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on the north shore of the island of Molokai. The leprosy colonies operated from 1866 to 1969 and had a total of over 8,500 residents over the decades.

At the time of Fr. Damien, a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, people sick with leprosy were exiled to Kalaupapa. It was that exile of so many human beings who needed the hand not only of a doctor but of another human being to comfort them in their dreadful living conditions, both physical and spiritual, that prompted Fr. Damien to go to Kalaupapa in 1873. He served there until his death in 1889.

Damien was joined by Mother Marianne Cope and six sisters from her Order, the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, in 1883. She lived and worked there until her death in 1918.

We see the words “heroic virtues” literally come to life in Damien and Marianne.

More than 8,000 people, mostly Hawaiians, have died at Kalaupapa. Many of their tombs can still be seen today, although many thousands were washed away years ago as the result of a tsunami. Kalaupapa is now home to just a few remaining residents who are now cured, but were forced to live their lives in isolation.

The conference will, as its title says, focus on Hawaii’s two saints, on their heroic virtues but also on human rights because that is really what Damien and Marianne fought for over so many decades – the rights of people who had been ostracized by society and forced to live in totally undignified circumstances.

When we think of sainthood and heroic virtues, we think: this is Mission Impossible – not something I can achieve. And yet, this is what we are all called to do! And this is what the conference hopes to achieve: to inspire all of us to – in our way, with whatever gifts God gave us, in whatever circumstances He placed us – aim high, to look at sanctity as something eminently achievable.

Did Marianne and Damien think like Mother Teresa: “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!”

A number of the speakers, as you’ll see from the program, are from the same congregation as St. Damien and the order of St. Marianne.

The special guest of honor is Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga. We have been in touch and I’ll be interviewing him!

I’ll also join Bishop Larry Silva on a pilgrimage to Kalaupapa on October 23. I’ve been there several times before, and have written stories and posted videos and interviewed many people.

I am truly looking forward to returning to a place that, for me, is a shrine.

https://www.dmcchawaii.org/