CHILDREN, A TREASURE FOR HUMANITY, SPEAK WITH SIMPLE, PURE, TRUSTING HEARTS – MIRACLE APPROVED FOR PARENTS OF ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX – “WOMEN KNOW HOW TO EMBODY THE TENDER FACE OF GOD, HIS MERCY”

The Pope’s audience catechesis today on children was just marvelous. He reminds us that we are all children, even if no longer tiny children.

If you have children, given them an extra hug today and tell them what a treasure they are. Tell them that Pope Francis said so!

CHILDREN, A TREASURE FOR HUMANITY, SPEAK WITH SIMPLE, PURE, TRUSTING HEARTS

Having spoken in previous general audiences of the various members of families – mothers, fathers, children, siblings, and grandparents – Pope Francis concluded this first section of catechesis on the family by talking about children. Today he focused on what a great gift children are for humanity, and next week he will speak about wounds that damage childhood.

Interrupted by the applause of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square when he affirmed that “children are a gift to humanity,” Pope Francis thanked them and exclaimed: “but they are also greatly excluded because they are even not allowed to be born. A society can be judged, not only morally but also sociologically, on how it treats its children, if it is a free society or a slave society of international interests.”

POPE FRANCIS - AUDIENCE ON CHILDREN

The Pope Francis recalled the many happy children he met during his recent journey to Asia, children brimming with life and enthusiasm, noting that, on the other hand, he thinks of the countless children throughout our world who are living in poverty and need.

The Holy Father noted that “children remind us that we all, in the first years of life, are totally dependent on the care and kindness of others. The Son of God was not spared this stage. This is the mystery that we contemplate every year at Christmas time. The manger scene is the icon that communicates this reality in the most simple and direct way.”

Francis explained that, “God has no difficulty in being understood by children and children have no trouble in understanding God. It isn’t by chance that in the Gospels Jesus speaks beautiful and strong words about the ‘little ones’.” The Pope noted that this term “little ones,” indicates all those who depend on the help of others, particularly children.  He said, “Children, therefore, are a treasure for humanity and also for the Church because they constantly remind us of the necessary condition for entering into the Kingdom of God: that we must not consider ourselves self-sufficient, but in need of help, of love, and of forgiveness.”

Children also remind us that we are always children even when we become adults or if we become parents; beneath it all we keep our identity as a child. “And this always leads us back to the fact that we are not given life, but that we have received it,” the Pope said.

“The great gift of life is the first gift we have received. Sometimes we risk forgetting about this, as if we were the masters of our existence, while instead we are radically dependent. In fact, it is a source of great joy to hear that at every age in life, in every situation, in every social condition, we are and remain sons and daughters. This is the main message that children give us with their presence: with just their presence they remind us that each and every one of us is a child.”

Listing some of the other gifts that children bring to humanity the Pope highlighted their way of seeing reality, “with a confident and pure gaze. Children have a spontaneous trust in mom and dad and they have a spontaneous trust in God, in Jesus, and in the Madonna. At the same time, their inner gaze is pure, not yet tainted by malice, duplicity, and the ‘incrustation’ of life that harden one’s heart. We know that even children have original sin, that they can be selfish, but they retain a purity and an inner simplicity. Children are not diplomats: they say what they feel, they say what they see, directly. And many times they make parents uncomfortable, saying in front of other people: “I don’t like this because it’s ugly.” But children say what they see. They aren’t split persons; they still haven’t learned that science of duplicity that we adults have unfortunately learned.”

Francis underscored how children also bring with them the ability to receive and to give affection. “Tenderness is having a heart ‘of flesh and not of stone’, as the Bible says. Tenderness is also poetry. It is feeling things and events, not treating them as mere objects only to use them because they they’re useful.”

“The ability to smile and to cry is another gift that children bring us, one which we grown-ups often block out. Many times our smile becomes a cardboard one, something lifeless and cold or even an artificial, clown’s smile. Children smile and cry spontaneously. It always comes from the heart, and often our hearts are closed and we lose this ability to smile and to cry. Children, then, can teach us how to smile and how to cry again. This is why Jesus invites his disciples to become like children because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

“Children bring life, joy, hope, even troubles. But life is like that. They certainly also bring worries and, at times, many problems. But a society with these worries and problems is a better one than a society that is sad and gray because it is childless! And when we see a society with a birthrate of just one percent,” he concluded, “we can say that that is a sad and gray society because it is without children.” Great applause followed this comment.

Francis inviting everyone to “welcome and treasure our children, who bring so much life, joy and hope to the world.”

On greeting pilgrims from English-speaking countries, the Pope was warmly hailed by students from The Catholic University of America and Loyola University Maryland who are studying in Rome for the semester. (source: VIS)

MIRACLE APPROVED FOR PARENTS OF ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX

Pope Francis on Wednesday received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorized the congregation to promulgate decrees concerning several causes for saints. Most notably, the Pope has approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azélie Guérin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

The congregation also promulgated decrees of heroic virtue for seven individuals who are on the path to canonization. The Servants of God whose heroic virtues were recognized on Tuesday are: Fr. Francesco Gattola (Italian); Pietro Barbarić (Bosnia Herzegovina); Mary Aikenhead (Irish); Elisabetta Baldo (Italian); Vincenza of the Passion of the Lord (née Edvige Jaroszewska, Polish): Giovanna of the Cross (Spanish); and Maria Orsola Bussone (Italian).

With the papal decree, these holy men and women are now referred to as Venerable.

For complete information, click here: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/03/18/pope_authorizes_promulgation_of_miracle,_heroic_virtue/1130266

“WOMEN KNOW HOW TO EMBODY THE TENDER FACE OF GOD, HIS MERCY”

Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, spoke Tuesday during a meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and speaking for the Holy See, called for the promotion of inclusive and equitable economies to advance the status of women in the world. (photo news.va)

ARCHBISHOP AUZA - UN

“Notwithstanding the fact that women constitute the majority of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific ways, they are nevertheless courageously at the forefront in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty,” he said.  “From this perspective, the fight for the advancement of women must also mean assuring them equal access to resources, capital and technology.”

Archbishop Auza said studies have demonstrated that fragile family structures and the decline of marriage among the poor are very closely linked to poverty among women.

“Single mothers are left alone to raise children. Many mothers in situations of distress fail to send their children to school, thus entangling them in the vicious circle of poverty and marginalization,” he said.

“While Governments and society do not create families, they have crucial roles to play in supporting healthy families and fostering parenting,” said Archbishop Auza.

“We are thus called to foster that atmosphere in which men and boys – and women  and girls themselves  –  can better appreciate the full greatness of woman, which  includes not just the aspects she shares in common with man, but also the unique  gifts that pertain to her as woman, like her capacity for motherhood understood  not just as a reproductive act, but as a spiritual, educational, affective, nurturing  and cultural way of life.”

“This work of fostering a wholesome atmosphere is ever more urgent, because we’re  living  in a  time when the unique value and dignity of motherhood in some societies  is  insufficiently  defended,  appreciated  and  advanced,  leaving  women  culturally  and  legally  in  a  position  to  choose  between  their  intellectual  and  professional  development and their personal growth as wives and mothers.”

“Studies  indicate  that  behind  cases  of  juvenile  delinquency  and  children  in  distressed and distressing situations is often a weak or a broken family. In this sphere, Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the contribution of so many  women who work within the family, in the areas of teaching the faith, and in all  areas  of  social,  education  and  cultural  development.  He  affirmed  that  “women  know how to embody the tender face of God, his mercy, which is translated into a  willingness to give time rather than to occupy space, to welcome rather than to  exclude.”

Full text here: http://www.news.va/en/news/holy-see-women-must-be-appreciated-for-their-uniqu

POPE FRANCIS DONATES €500,000 TO AID EBOLA VICTIMS IN WEST AFRICA

Pope Francis has given €500,000 ($531,183) to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, especially Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The fund is being distributed by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (photo: Vatican Radio)

CARDINAL TURKSON

Cardinal Peter Turkson, council president, said the fund has many objectives, including improving existing health care structures, offering psychological help for families affected by the Ebola crisis, and to aid local dioceses and parishes to develop sacramental practices which minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.

Justice and Peace is currently seeking additional donors to add to the fund, and has doubled the amount of the original papal donation, but Cardinal Turkson said he hopes to have 2 or 3 million euros before distributing funds to Catholic organizations battling the crisis.

“The applications [for grants] have started coming already, but want to reach a decent level before we start treating applications,” Cardinal Turkson told Vatican Radio.

The council has limited initial grants to €30,000 ($31,868), and is encouraging larger projects to get matching funds before applying.