Click on the link below to see the video of the entire general audience and you will see a moment of history when two Vatican employees participate in roles usually taken by monsignors from the Secretariat of State. In fact, in a first for the Vatican, as I posted earlier this morning, Christopher Wells of Vatican radio and news services, today read the English introductory remarks, summary of the papal catechesis and papal greetings to English speakers, and Sr. Andrea Lorena Chacon, M.E.N., from the Spanish section of the Secretariat of State, read the introductory remarks in Spanish. However, Pope Francis read the catechesis summary and language greetings in his native Spanish.

You will also be able to see members of the Ron Roller circus perform for Pope Francis (starts at minute 53). There were acrobats, musicians and jugglers and some flame throwers! I am sure that Vatican firemen with extinguishers were somewhere close by, though unseen!

Pope at Audience: Joseph shows fullness of adoptive fatherhood – Vatican News


At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the fatherhood of St. Joseph, and prays that all children might enjoy the bond of paternal love, even if through the praiseworthy practice of adoption.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis continued his catechesis series on St. Joseph at the Wednesday General Audience, focusing his remarks on his role as the father of Jesus.

The Pope noted that the Gospels of Luke and Matthew present Joseph as the “foster-father of Jesus” and not as his biological one.

The evangelist Matthew avoids the term “father of” in his genealogy, while Luke said he was the father of Jesus, “as was supposed””

Venerable practice of adoption

Pope Francis recalled that the practice of adoption was much more common in ancient times in the East than it is in our own societies.

He gave the example of the requirement in ancient Israel for a man to marry the widowed wife of his deceased brother, if he died without a male heir. In this case, the legal father of the firstborn son from such a union would be the deceased man, ensuring both an heir for the deceased and the preservation of his estate.

Instilling an identity

The institution of fatherhood also included the right to name a son, as Joseph named Jesus, thereby legally recognizing Him.

“In ancient times, the name was the compendium of a persons identity. Changing ones name meant changing oneself.”

The Pope offered the examples of God changing Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob’s to Israel, both of which involved a change to the patriarchs’ identity.

In choosing Jesus’ name, he added, Joseph already knew God had prepared a name for His Son, one meaning “the Lord saves.”

Becoming parents

Pope Francis went on to reflect on fatherhood and motherhood, saying people become parents by taking up their responsibility for their children.

“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person. (Apostolic Letter Patris Corde)”

Adoption a ‘risk’ worth taking

The Pope then turned his thoughts to the institution of adoption. He said Joseph shows that adoption is not based on a secondary type of bond with a child, but rather exemplifies a high form of love.

“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them!” said the Pope. “And how many spouses wish to be fathers and mothers but are unable to do so for biological reasons; or, although they already have children, they want to share their family’s affection with those who have been left without.”

Pope Francis encouraged willing families to choose the path of adoption, and to “take the risk of welcoming children.”

Speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope lamented the “demographic winter” facing parts of the world, and urged married couples to welcome children – through natural birth or adoption – rather than buying more dogs and cats in place of children.

“Having a child is always a risk, whether naturally or by adoption. But it is more risky not to have them, to negate fatherhood or motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”

And he urged civil institutions to promote legal adoption, “by seriously monitoring but also simplifying the necessary procedure to fulfill the dream of so many children who need a family.”

Bond of paternal love

Finally, the Pope prayed that no child may be “deprived of a bond of paternal love.”

“May Saint Joseph exercise his protection over and give his help to orphans,” he prayed, “and may he intercede for couples who wish to have a child.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis with a prayer to St. Joseph:

Saint Joseph,
you who loved Jesus with fatherly love,
be close to the many children who have no family
and who wish for a father and a mother.
Support the couples who are unable to have children,
Help them to discover, through this suffering, a greater plan.
Make sure that no one lacks a home, a bond,
a person to take care of him or her;
and heal the selfishness of those who close themselves off from life,
that they may open their hearts to love. Amen.


For those of you who will be in Rome early next month and want to see the mortal remains of St. Padre Pio for the days they will be in the Eternal City and in Vatican City, click here (the official Vatican Jubilee website) for details: http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en/news/evidenza/2016-01-06-pcpne.html


It was a fun day for pilgrims attending Pope Francis’ weekly general audienc, held this week in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, because the circus was in town and performed in front of the Holy Father who gave every indication of greatly enjoying the colorful performance. (CNS photo)


“I greet the circus performers,” he said after they had performed, “and I thank them for their very welcome exhibition. You are champions of beauty: you make beauty, and beauty is good for the soul.” Then, extemporaneously, he said, “Beauty brings us closer to God, but behind this spectacle of beauty, how many hours of training there are! Go forward, keep it up!”

Earlier, the Pope delivered his weekly audience catechesis in Italian, with summaries delivered in seven other languages by monsignori from the Secretariat of State. (photo new.va)


“Continuing our weekly catecheses inspired by this Holy Year devoted to divine mercy,” began Francis, “we now consider God’s mercy at work in the history of the Chosen People. The Scriptures show the Lord’s merciful concern for Israel throughout its history, beginning with the call of Abraham. God’s mercy is expressed particularly, however, in the experience of the exodus from Egypt. God heard the cry of his people, as he hears the cry of the poor and oppressed in every age. He raised up Moses to be the mediator of his mercy and salvation.

“Through Moses,” continued the Pope, “he led Israel to freedom and, through the covenant, he made them his own possession, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, a people precious in his eyes. The mystery of God’s mercy culminates in the sending of his Son, the Lord Jesus, in that “new and eternal covenant” inaugurated in his blood, whereby we are granted the forgiveness of our sins and become truly God’s children, beloved sons and daughters of our good and merciful Father.

The Holy Father explained that, “Moses, one of God’s chosen ones, saved from the waters of the Nile by divine mercy, becomes a mediator for the liberation of his people. “And we too, in this Year of Mercy, can be mediators … with the works of mercy, being close to our neighbours, to relieve them. They are many good things we can do.

In off-the-cuff remarks, Francis said, “I think about so many brothers and sisters who are estranged from their families; they don’t speak to each other. This Year of Mercy is a good occasion to meet up again, to embrace each other and forgive each other, to leave bad things behind.” And he urged those with such issues to try and settle them, to patch things up, to take advantage of this year of mercy

Pope Francis emphasized performing both spiritual and corporal works of mercy uring this Holy Year – and beyond – and this was also the core of his just-released 2016 Message for Lent.


(Vatican Radio) During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called attention to a Jubilee Year initiative of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, promoting a day of spiritual retreat for persons and groups dedicated to the service of charitable works. These days of retreat, to be offered in each diocese during the coming Lent, will offer an opportunity to reflect on the call to be merciful as the Father is merciful. “I invite you to welcome this initiative,” Pope Francis said, “making use of the suggestions and materials prepared by Cor Unum.”

The day of retreat will have as its theme “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5,14: the love of Christ compels us). In a letter announcing the initiative, Cor Unum suggests that each individual charitable group should celebrate its own day of reflection, citing the Holy Father’s desire that the Jubilee be celebrated in local communities. The letter suggests the retreat be organized in three parts: “a penitential celebration with individual confessions; a time of sharing in group and the Eucharistic celebration.”

More information on the Day of Spiritual Retreat can be found here.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum was instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, its tasks are to orient and coordinate the Organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church.